Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

LinkSwarm for August 18, 2017

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The House IT scandal, another UK Islamic rape ring, jihad terror attacks, Charlottesville, Google: Another packed week of news, all big stories that deserve more time than I have to fully untangle. I especially don’t want to get dragged into the endless Charlottesville debate/recrimination/squirrel! morass, since that’s exactly where the leftwing activists and the MSM (but I repeat myself) want us to focus our attention, rather than the economy or Islamic terrorism.

Plus two Disney links, just because that’s the way the week shook out.

  • “Newcastle has joined a list of British cities where grooming gangs, made up of predominantly Pakistani Muslim men, systematically rape and abuse vulnerable, white girls. A nationwide pattern emerged after the first prosecutions in Rotherham, and then Rochdale, where a ‘culture of silence’ and political correctness led to inaction by authorities who feared being called ‘racist’.”
  • Barcelona jihad terror attacks kill 13.
  • But news reports go out of their way to avoid mentioning “Islam” or “Jihad.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • On the same subject:

  • Jihad stabbing attack in Finland? Obviously Finland needs stricter knife control…
  • “Imran Awan, a former IT aide for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was indicted Thursday on four counts including bank fraud and making false statements.”
  • The Feds also indicted Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. “In addition to lying on multiple mortgage disclosures, as an affidavit alleged at the time of Imran’s arrest, the indictment claims Hina lied by claiming medical hardship in order to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from a retirement program.”
  • “Feds Accuse Former Texas Police Chief of Working with Mexican Cartel.”

    McALLEN, Texas — Federal authorities arrested a former chief and current police sergeant for his role in allegedly helping Mexico’s Gulf Cartel move cocaine and marijuana through his jurisdiction. The Texas cop claimed that he needed money to pay for his upcoming bid for county constable after a failed attempt for the Hidalgo County Sheriff position.

    Current Progreso Police Sergeant Geovani Hernandez went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby who formally charged him with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

    The case against Hernandez began earlier this year when agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations received information from a confidential informant indicating that Sgt. Geovani Hernandez was working for the Gulf Cartel, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed. According to the documents, Hernandez bragged to an informant that he was a friend of former Gulf Cartel leader Juan Manuel “El Toro” Loza Salina and was able to travel to Reynosa without heat. The Texas cop told the informant that he needed money for his upcoming race for Hidalgo County Constable.

    Hernandez, like the majority of candidates running for office in the Rio Grande Valley, is a Democrat. The person he lost to in the 2012 Democratic, Guadalupe “Lupe” Trevino, is in prison for money-laundering. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Participant at Charlottesville rally claims police actively pushed attendees into the arms of antifa to be attacked. Which would seem to be a misuse of police power even if the people being abused are white nationalist scumbag LARP Nazis.
  • Agreeing with the above version of events: Those well-known Nazi sympathizers, the ACLU:

    “I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence,” said Gastanaga. “They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area.”

  • “The ridiculous campaign by virtually every media outlet, every Democrat and far too many squishy Republicans to label Trump some kind of racist and Nazi sympathizer is beginning to have the stink of an orchestrated smear. The conflagration in Charlottesville is beginning to feel like a set-up, perhaps weeks or months in the planning.” Also this tidbit I’ve seen elsewhere: “The ‘founder’ of Unite The Right, Jason Kessler, was an activist with Occupy Wall Street and Obama supporter.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Charlottesville Deputy Mayor’s Troubling Twitter Feed: ‘I Hate Seeing White People.'”
  • “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.” Noam Chomsky and I agreeing on something. And the moon became as blood… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Why Was This ‘Crowd Hire’ Company Recruiting $25 An Hour ‘Political Activists’ In Charlotte Last Week?”
  • Scott Adams: “How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble”:

    A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartin Pre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies.

    Snip.

    One sign of a good mass hysteria is that it sounds bonkers to anyone who is not experiencing it. Imagine your neighbor telling you he thinks the other neighbor is a witch. Or imagine someone saying the local daycare provider is a satanic temple in disguise. Or imagine someone telling you tulip bulbs are more valuable than gold. Crazy stuff.

    Compare that to the idea that our president is a Russian puppet. Or that the country accidentally elected a racist who thinks the KKK and Nazis are “fine people.” Crazy stuff.

  • German town of Bad Nenndorf discovers best way to defeat both Neo-Nazis and Antifa: Have a big party! (Hat tip: Will Shetterly.)
  • 7 Things You Need to Know About Antifa,” including the fact that 92% still live with their parents.
  • On this Althouse thread I joked that SJWs would soon start digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers to put their bones on trial for war crimes. Guess what?
  • Next up on the statue destruction spree: Well-known Confederate sympathizer Abraham Lincoln, whose statues have been the target of multiple incidents of vandalism.
  • The hard left is drawing up big plans for November 4. “It’s very likely nothing will come of this, that it’s just another left-wing wish-fulfillment pantomime of a type carried out by leftists every year – if not every six months – since the 60s.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Where this is all leading:

  • Google engineer James Damore explains why he was fired:

    I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company’s code of conduct and “cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

    My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company’s “ideological echo chamber.” My firing neatly confirms that point.

  • “James Damore was just fired for being insufficiently Googly.”

    He rejected Google’s internal mythology, and worse, he did so with basic math, in a company where mathiness is supposed to be part of the culture.

    He also rejected a piece of the general mythology so firmly that what he said was actively misreported — so blatantly that one has to conclude the reporters either can’t read the hard parts of the memo, didn’t bother to read the memo, or somehow managed to see things that weren’t there. (That last is my guess, based on the examples of Trump Trance we’ve seen over the last six months.)

  • “I’m An Ex-Google Woman Tech Leader And I’m Sick Of Our Approach To Diversity!”

    In the copious hiring I did at Google, 97% of the people I hired were men. I wrote reams of appeals to the hiring committee to make cases for cross-functional candidates who would be great assets to Google, even though a (typically) male dominated software engineering interview crew did not find these candidates up to snuff. I had a 90+% success rate changing the hiring decision for these candidates. Almost every one of these hires made an amazing difference to the company. 98+% of these candidates were men.

    It’s not like I wasn’t trying to hire women. But I was working with a candidate pool composed of 90% men. Try software engineers with experience in sensors, wireless and hardware stacks before angrily correcting my stats there. There was no way I was going to come out of that with a larger percentage of women hires than I did.

  • Slashdot commenter nails them for their endless social justice warrioring:

    Yes, there are some unproductive people in major corporations and the media who wish to push their left-leaning political agendas on the public at large.

    But we want no part of it.

    And you know what? It’s no different here at Slashdot.

    We come here to learn about new technologies, about new scientific and mathematical discoveries, and to discuss computing.

    We don’t want to waste our days arguing about genitalia, sexual preference, racism, and transgenderism.

    We just want this bullshit to end.

    We want those on the political left to stop trying to divide society into small groups based on arbitrary traits.

    Or at the very least, we want everybody else to ignore the divisions that the political left are trying to create.

  • Is a war between China and India brewing in the Himalayas? That would seem to be a bigger story than some century-old statues. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Liberals: “There should be fewer regulations on cool things I like!” Everyone else: “What about regulations on things other people like?” Liberals: “Fuck them!
  • Madness is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  • “Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape.”
  • College girl gets her picture taken with the Vice President. Lunatics freak out.
  • If any Republican wrote that Adolf Hitler was “had in him the stuff of which legends are made,” the way John F. Kennedy wrote in his diary in 1945, his career would be over.
  • Ted Nugent believes he would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if he weren’t such an outspoken supporter of gun rights. He’s probably right: How do you think is a bigger “Rock and Roll Legend”: Ted Nugent, or ABBA?
  • In case you’re wondering how big a joke that Southern Poverty Law Center “hate list” is, Bosch Fawstin, a critic of Islam who drew Mohammed and was targeted for assassination in Garland, is evidently a “hate group” all on his own:

  • “He tried to kill them with a forklift!” Alice in Wonderland, that is. Who is a man. And then it gets weird…
  • The rise and fall of Disney’s River Country, a small water park near Disney World in Orlando that’s been closed and allowed to decay for 15 years.
  • 10 Disney Princesses Re-imagined as Electoral Maps.”
  • Straus Spikes Abbott Special Session Agenda By Adjourning Early

    Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

    Once again Texas Speaker Joe Straus has used parliamentary maneuvers to thwart conservative reform:

    In an unprecedented abuse of power, House Speaker Joe Straus unilaterally adjourned the Texas House without warning a day before the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to end. In doing so, he ignored loud objections from the floor and denied members their right to vote on the move.

    Shortly after the Texas House voted to approve a half-billion-dollar education spending program, State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angelton) began briefing lawmakers on the progress of negotiations about a property tax reform measure. Bonnen told lawmakers he would not appoint a conference committee on what was arguably the center-piece legislation of both the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that was watered down over the weekend in the House.

    Instead, Bonnen told his colleagues, the Senate would have to take the House version or leave it.

    Then, without warning, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) stepped to the microphone and moved that the House adjourn “sine die” – the constitutional language concluding the chamber’s work for the special session.

    Besides property tax reform, the adjournment killed the key issues in Gov. Abbott’s agenda, such as spending limits, privacy protections, paycheck protection, and more.

    Straus’ radical move could be a last hurrah for the liberal Republican speaker.

    The House Republican Caucus is scheduled to meet on Wednesday at 8:30am to discuss adopting procedures for a caucus nominee for speaker.

    After Straus gaveled the House out, conservative members confirmed on social media that the speaker ignored a chorus of objections and demands for a record vote on the motion to adjourn.

    It is Straus’s most insolent rebuke yet of Gov. Abbott’s authority to call a special session, and the basic foundations of our constitutional order.

    Over the past several sessions, Straus had gradually consolidated power, refusing to recognize member’s motion, refusing to allow members to lay out amendments, and refusing to answer questions or justify his actions on any legal basis.

    Governor Abbott was blunt about who was to blame for the special session failure:

    Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame for the failure of the Legsialture to pass half of his 20-item special session agenda on the House and its speaker, Joe Straus, laying the groundwork for a challenge to Straus in the next session.

    In an interview with KTRH radio in Houston Wednesday morning, Abbott said he was gratified by the progress made in the special session, which ended a day early Tuesday, but unhappy with the failure of the House to even vote on nine of his agenda items.

    “I’m disappointed that all 20 items did not receive the up or down vote that I wanted,” the governor said.

    While the Senate worked quickly to pass 18 of his priorities at session’s start, Abbott said the House was “dilly-dallying” on unrelated matters, and laid the blame at the doorstep of the speaker, who he said had made plain during the regular session that he would block any transgender bathroom legislation in a regular or special session and delivered on that promise.

    “We [sic-LP] was not tricky. He was open and overt that he would not let it on the House floor,” Abbott said.

    The governor said he was especially disappointed that the session ended without agreeing on his top priority of property tax reform. He said he could call another special session at any time, but it would not make sense to do so with the same cast of characters, suggesting, “that’s why elections matter.”

    That seemed to be an invitation to members of the House Freedom Caucus to seek to replace Straus in the next session. In that he is on the same page at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who blistered Straus at a sine die press conference Tuesday night.

    The Texas House Republican Caucus is meeting right now to address the Speaker question.

    LinkSwarm for August 11, 2017

    Friday, August 11th, 2017

    North Korea is making crazy threats again, which at this point is a dog-bites-man type story if ever there was one. They’ve done this sort of crazy lunatic invalid sabre-rattling before and, if President Trump doesn’t end up wiping them off the map entirely, will undoubtedly do it again. But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamic of the situation: North Korea can hurt us, but we can completely erase North Korea from the Prime Material Plane. So unless actual military action occurs, I doubt I have much to say (or link to) on North Korea…

  • NSA says no Russian hack of DNC computers. “Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.” Will the Trump Derangement Brigades finally let go of their Russian hacking fantasy? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Why Does the Left Suddenly Hate Russia?”

    The new progressive hatred of Russia is baffling. Of course, Vladimir Putin is a thug and a killer who in the grand tradition of Russian autocracy has no intention ever of holding free elections. But he is perhaps no more a murderer than are the Castro brothers in Cuba, with whom we have concluded a détente and who have no arsenal capable of destroying the U.S.

    Putin is no more or less trustworthy than are the Iranians, with whom in 2015 we cut a deal on nuclear proliferation and who are far more likely than the Russians to send a nuclear missile into Israel someday. Putin’s brutal suppression of the press recalls the ongoing repression by President Recep Erdogan of Turkey — a linchpin member of NATO.

    There is no freedom in China. The Communists still in control have the blood of 50 million Chinese dead on their hands from Mao’s brutal revolutions and genocides. Yet we enjoy all sorts of cultural, political, and economic bipartisan relationships with China, whose nuclear patronage of North Korea has done more damage to U.S. security than any plot from the dark mind of Vladimir Putin.

    In terms of Russia’s macabre history, Putin is a piker compared with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, who may have orchestrated the deaths of 20 million Russians. After December 1941, the United States concluded a “Big Three” wartime pact with Stalin and supplied 20 percent of the Soviet Union’s wartime resources and arms — some of it later lavishly recycled to post-war Communist uprisings around the globe.

  • “Australian terror suspect planted plane bomb on brother.” And of course the BBC puts this information 17 paragraphs into the story: “The two suspects – Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32.”
  • Democrats are screwed in 2018…and beyond:

    Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.

    Snip.

    In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York — states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

    Snip.

    Consider: In 1980, there were 18 states where the presidential margin was at least 5 points more Democratic than the national result, 18 states where it was at least 5 points more Republican than the national result and 14 states in between. Hypothetically, over three successive election cycles, all either party needed to do to win a Senate majority was win all 36 of the seats in the friendly states plus at least 15 of the 28 swing-state seats.

    Today, Republicans don’t even need to win any “swing states” to win a Senate majority: 52 seats are in states where the 2016 presidential margin was at least 5 percentage points more Republican than the national outcome. By contrast, there are just 28 seats in states where the margin was at least 5 points more Democratic, and only 20 seats in swing states.

  • 23% of federal prisoners are illegal aliens.
  • Former “sanctuary cities” in Clark County in Nevada and Miami-Dade County in Florida have confirmed they’re now in compliance with federal immigration law. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “For Fear Of Leaks, Google Cancels All-Hands Meeting Over Engineer Firing Fiasco.” Google went full Social Justice Warrior. Never go full Social Justice Warrior…
  • Christina Hoff Sommers: “Google has excommunicated James Damore for crimes against the Pink Police State.”
  • Trump Appoints More Judges in 200 Days Than Obama, Bush, Clinton.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Perhaps the Second Amendment is the black man’s ultimate sign of full citizenship.” Also this: “The National African-American Gun Association he founded has grown from 800 to 20,000 members since 2015.” Though the piece is marbled with the usual leftwing “America the racist” framing. (Hat tip: Shall not Be Questioned.)
  • This is, I think, a grave miscarriage of justice: man convicted of DUI for driving in and out of his own garage while drunk, never leaving his own property, which strikes me as a takings clause violation.
  • Julian Castro forms a PAC. Possibly eyeing a 2020 Presidential run? Well he’s certainly not going to win statewide…
  • Democrats “pro-worker” policies hurt workers. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Why is Spain arresting European journalists on Turkey’s behalf? Swedish citizen Hamza Yalcin is in jail for “treason” which seems to mean “criticizing the Erdogan regime.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • How Japan could have won World War II. “Win” in this case is not “pummeling America into submission” (impossible) but “making the costs of a protracted war so high that it avoids defeat.” Not striking Pearl Harbor was one key possibility. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Giant mech fight! Finally, the 21st Century I was promised! (The headline says “robots” but the video clearly shows piloted vehicles.) Now, from an actual military standpoint, that under-armored, under-powered mech is going to last about 15 seconds on a real battlefield and could be taken out by a single RPG (or any 8-year quick enough to jam a crowbar into the exposed, undersized tread gears), much less a real tank…
  • NY Times Editors Deny Reading Their Own Newspaper.”
  • “Emails Show WaPo, NYT Reporters Didn’t Want to Cover Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Meeting.”
  • Paper beats rock. Rock beats Mexican. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I hate linking to ESPN given its SJW turn, but this profile of fighter Conor McGregor was too good not to.
  • Neanderthal cave structure dated to 176,500 years ago.
  • The fate of Viking settlers in Greenland. (Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle.)
  • Tweets:

    I encourage Antifa to buy a Soviet tank. They’ll discover tanks are cool, which will be a gateway drug to learning that guns are cool, after which it’s only a matter of time until they’re eating BBQ, driving pickup trucks and listening to Garth Brooks…

  • Abbott Raises $41 Million and His Democratic Opponent Owns a Gay Leather Bar

    Thursday, August 10th, 2017

    Having contributed to a few Republican candidates over the years, I’m on all sorts of email solicitation lists. Including Governor Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign.

    Most election campaigns, I received 1-2 pieces of email a week. The Abbott campaign, by contrast, seems to send out at least 1-2 piece of email a day. By my count I’ve received some 90 email solicitations from the Abbott campaign this year, and the pace picked up notably in June.

    In fact, Abbott has amassed a campaign warchest of $41 million, despite no prominent Democrat having stepping forward to challenge him.

    That doesn’t mean no Democrats have stepped forward to challenge Abbott. Meet the de facto 2018 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial front-runner Jeffrey Payne of Dallas, the owner of The Dallas Eagle, a gay leather bar.

    Here’s his official photo as judge of “Internatonial Puppy Trainer Contest.” (Hint: No actual dogs are involved in this contest.)

    There are political races where being owner of a gay leather bar would not be a huge obstacle; say, a Mayoral race in San Francisco.

    A Texas Gubernatorial race is not one of them.

    It’s like the Texas Democratic Party went “We can’t possible do worse than Wendy Davis did in 2014!” and Fate said “Hold my beer!”

    Payne is the front-runner for having filed and for his willingness to loan $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign. But look for the Texas Democratic Party to desperately coax an old warhorse out of retirement, ala Paul Sadler in 2012, to avoid a complete down-ballot wipeout.

    Dukes Plea Deal Expires, Headed for Trial

    Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

    The plea deal for Austin Democratic State Rep. Dawnna Dukes on corruption charges has expired.

    The Travis County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday said its offer to drop all corruption charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, in exchange for her agreeing to resign immediately had expired.

    In a statement sent to The Texas Tribune after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she’d had no contact from the attorneys for Dukes.

    “The offer to resolve this matter has expired and is no longer available,” Moore said in a statement. “We will be ready for trial.”

    As a part of the deal, Dukes would’ve had to also pay $3,500 in fines and restitution and agree to a drug and alcohol assessment. Dukes has previously denied charges that she had her legislative staff run personal errands and that she was compensated for days she did not work at the Texas Capitol.

    Dukes seems awful confident of beating the rap, especially since her previous legal team bailed:

    On July 25, two of Dukes’ Houston-based lawyers filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, citing an inability to “effectively communicate with the defendant on matters essential to the representation.”

    State Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, put out a statement Tuesday night indicating he was representing Dukes, writing that the 12-term representative rejected the Travis County DA’s proposal because she “strongly reiterates her innocence,” adding that the “inexplicable request that she undergo some drug assessment is absurd.” He said neither Dukes nor her attorneys plan on commenting further.

    Oliveira has been practicing law since 1979, so presumably he knows what he’s doing.

    Maybe Dukes saw that John Wiley Price beat a federal rap and figured she could so the same for the comparatively piddling local charges. Given how quickly DA Margaret Moore was willing to sweep away the cobwebs of the Ronnie Earle/Rosemary Lehmberg era at the DA’s office, she may have miscalculated.

    The trial is currently scheduled to start October 16.

    Campus Carry for Texas Community/Junior Colleges Takes Effect Today

    Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

    Good news! Campus carry went into effect for four-year colleges, and today it takes effect for community and Junior Colleges:

    On Tuesday, August 1, Texas’ campus carry law goes into effect for community colleges around the state. As previously reported, Senate Bill 11 – legislation prioritized by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick during the 2015 legislative session and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott – took effect for four-year public colleges and universities one year ago. The law set the implementation date for public junior colleges as August 1, 2017.

    As expected, adult faculty, staff and student License to Carry holders have behaved in the same law-abiding, responsible manner on public college and university campuses as they have everywhere else in the State of Texas for the more than twenty years the carry law has been in effect. Naysayers’ predictions of increased crimes involving firearms at these institutions have, unsurprisingly, not come to pass. In a recent article in the Austin American Statesman (“Campus Carry: No problems so far at UT-Austin”), SB 11 author Sen. Brian Birdwell stated: “After decades of resounding success with the concealed handgun license program in Texas, I’m not the least bit surprised to see the campus carry law being implemented successfully and without incident. It’s a testament both to the irrationality of the original prohibition and the law-abiding nature of handgun license holders.”

    DA to Dukes: Resign or Else

    Monday, July 31st, 2017

    There’s been a new development in Democrat State Rep. Dawnna Dukes corruption case:

    Beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes has until the end of the day Tuesday to resign from office — and submit to a drug and alcohol assessment — as part of a plea offer in her criminal corruption case.

    The plea offer is similar to one Dukes rejected last year prior to the Texas Rangers launching an investigation that led to a Travis County grand jury indicting Dukes on 13 felony charges and two misdemeanors.

    Dukes did not respond to messages left by the American-Statesman on Monday morning. She told reporters in June after pleading not guilty that she would not take any plea deals and instead will proceed to trial on Oct. 16.

    The deal expires at the close of the business day on Tuesday and will not be re-offered, according to Justin Wood of the district attorney’s office. In addition to her resignation, the plea offer calls for Dukes to:

  • Submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and complete any treatment and counseling recommended as a result of the assessment. In a March 29 meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, Dukes showed up late and, after posing a rambling question, referred to medication she was on — “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon,” she said.
  • Pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 related to charges of tampering with governmental records and abuse of official capacity. Dukes is alleged to have collected pay for days she did not travel to the Capitol in the 2014 Legislative session. She’s also charged with using her legislative staff for personal chores.
  • Pay a $500 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission. Dukes was sued by the commission earlier this month for missing a deadline for an elections finance report and then not paying the fine.
  • Waive her right to a speedy trial in any future litigation related to these matters
  • In exchange for accepting the offer, the DA’s office has agreed to drop all charges, but only after Dukes has complied with all conditions.

    If found guilty at trial, Dukes could face a maximum punishment of 28 years in prison.

    Dukes’ attorney, Dane Ball, of Houston, declined comment Monday morning and would not say if he is still representing Dukes in this case.

    Dukes was indicted in January and pled not guilty June 30. Her continuing in the legislature was a surprise, as she had been absent from from the legislature for more than a year for “medical reasons,” and had previously said she would step down, but then changed her mind and was sworn in for the 85th Texas legislature.

    Dukes previously stated she wanted to go to trial, but she has continually delayed the case, most recently on the grounds of legislative continuance, a cause that would still presumably hold while the special session is active.

    And if she beats the rap, Dukes says she’s considering running for reelection again in 2018.

    Stay tuned…

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”
  • LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!
  • Texas 2017 Special Session Begins

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

    The Texas Special Session opened Tuesday, ushering in a 30 day flurry of legislative activity. Naturally the media is focusing on the bathroom bill, because liberals are incensed that an unpopular culture war victory imposed by Obama fiat could possibly be overturned. But a lot of other important items are on the agenda, most of which liberals will hate just as much.

    The uncontroversial portion of the session is sailing right through:

    Waiving rules and blocking Democrats, Republicans in the Texas Senate opened the special legislative session Tuesday by taking rapid action on two key bills, potentially allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to open the overtime session to a longer list of conservative priorities as early as Wednesday afternoon.

    Abbott said he will expand the special session’s agenda after the Senate approves two “sunset” bills allowing five state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, to continue operating.

    To hasten action on the bills, Republicans voted along party lines to waive a rule requiring 24-hour notice of meetings so the Business and Commerce Committee could consider the sunset measures while the Senate was in a late-morning recess.

    For the first time in more than 30 years, senators also voted — again along party lines — to suspend a rule allowing one senator to “tag” legislation, requiring a 48-hour wait before a bill can be heard in committee.

    Here again are the 19 items after the must-pass Sunset legislation that Gov. Abbot has put on the agenda:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Bathroom bill
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • Here is the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s issue guide for the special session.