Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

LinkSwarm for March 24, 2017

Friday, March 24th, 2017

This week I started a new job and started working on my taxes, so expect scattered patches of Light Blogging for the next few weeks…

  • Everyone in Washington hates Donald Trump’s new budget. So it must have something going for it. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $3.9 trillion federal budget. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10 and 30 percent, while other outdated, duplicative or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.”
  • Neil Gorsuch appears to be headed toward confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • The Obama Administrations was carrying out surveillance of the Trump transition team:

    “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

    One wonders if his data collection was as “incidentally” as the IRS auditing conservatives…

  • Borepatch has a handy summary of the global warming controversy, with just enough technical details to provide a nice overview.
  • London: “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.” Also this: “According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, every year 17,000 Muslim women in Britain become victims of forced marriages, are raped by their husbands or subjected to female genital mutilation.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Italians used to look to Europe as a kind of savior: the Italian state was corrupt and inept, but Brussels would set a higher standard, and by loyal support for the EU, Italy could rise above its own problems. These days, the EU looks more like an anchor than a lifejacket.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Philadelphia’s Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams indicted on corruption and bribery charges. Oh, he also allegedly stole more than $20,000 from his own mother’s Social Security and pension funds. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed a general counsel to the NLRB after the Senate refused to confirm him.” Notable: 6-2 Supreme Court decision. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “I would argue that Pakistan’s history teaches at least three lessons. The first: Elections alone do not produce democracy. The second: Majority rule without minority rights leads to egregious illiberalism. Third: A state committed to the pursuit of religious ‘purity’ will always find some of its subjects in need of ‘cleansing.’ Down that path despotism lies.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Denmark doesn’t want to become Sweden.
  • The shape of battles to come.
  • Kurt Schlichter imagines how a second Korean War would unfold. Not so hot for the norks…
  • He came to America illegally with a dream…of raping a two year old. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • I’m still not tired of all the winning.
  • “Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice.” Faster please.
  • Texas to eliminate legal bribery in Brown County.
  • Karl Rehn on beyond the 1%. “93% of the 3.2 million adult gun owners in Texas likely do not train. 4% of them take the mandatory new permit course, at best 3% of them take some kind of NRA course, and only 1%, less than 30K, take any kind of post-CHL level course or shoot any kind of match, including all kinds of pistol, NRA high power, and all the shotgun sports.”
  • Dwight blogged about a case where a convenience store robber was found not guilty of aggravated assault because he was using an Airsoft pellet gun in the robbery. Evidently the reason for the verdict was the DA’s decision not to seek a lesser charge. It seems that the possibility of convicting on lesser charges is subject to instructions from the judge. The question that occurs to me: Is a criminal jury empowered to find a defendant guilty of one or more lesser charges if they were given no instructions regarding lesser charges from the judge?
  • London jihad-attack tweet:

  • Scott Adams describes how Bloomberg assembled a hit piece on him by taking things out of context, all because he was predicting a Trump victory in 2016. Remember: Every MSM hit piece on a conservative you see is constructed and slanted in similar ways.
  • Exit fat Barbie.
  • Statistical analysis of writer’s work. Elmore Leonard hates exclamation points, but James Joyce loves them…
  • Travis County is Number 1…in Refusing to Hold Illegal Aliens

    Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

    The list of local municipalities defying federal immigration law is out.

    One of President Trump’s first executive orders promised a weekly recounting of the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and a list of the recalcitrant local law enforcement departments that failed to turn those people over to federal officials.

    The Department of Homeland Security on Monday delivered the first report. But rather than provide a complete tally, it contained misleading information that only prompted confusion and defiance from law enforcement officials from the jurisdictions in question.

    The report, which covers Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deportations, issued 3,083 detainers, which are requests to local police departments to hold undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents who could be deported.

    The report showed, however, that only 206 of those detainers were declined by local law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, ICE officials say the lack of cooperation endangers Americans.

    Guess which political locale has defied federal law the most?

    Travis County, Tex., which includes the city of Austin, declined the most detainers, 142, out of the 206 rejections nationwide listed in the ICE report.

    Officials in Travis County said the high number of declined requests was the result of a change in policy by Sally Hernandez, a Democrat who became sheriff in January. She announced that unless individuals in the Travis County jail had been charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling, they would be allowed to post bond and released despite requests from ICE.

    So thanks to a Democratic Party functionary, Travis County has almost 75% of the entire nation’s non-compliance with federal immigration law. Digging into the actual report, many of the illegal alien felons Travis County refused to hold for deporation have committed sexual assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary and DUI.

    And these are the people Sally Hernandez prefers to see set free back into the community rather than lawfully deported to their home countries.

    The Travis County policy has been criticized by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has threatened to cut off Texas’ criminal justice grant funding for the county.

    After the release of Monday’s report, Mr. Abbott said the findings highlighted the need to get rid of sanctuary cities in the state.

    “The Travis County Sheriff’s decision to deny ICE detainer requests and release back into our communities criminals charged with heinous crimes – including sexual offenses against children, domestic violence and kidnapping – is dangerous and should be criminal in itself,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement.

    SB 5, the bill to abolish sanctuary cities in Texas, has passed the Texas senate and is currently pending in committee in the house.

    It’s time for Travis County to prioritize the safety of American citizens over that of illegal alien felons.

    Texas Bathroom Bill Advances

    Monday, March 20th, 2017

    Last week the Texas Senate approved SB-6, the bill that rolled back the Obama Administration’s illegal imposition of tranny bathrooms on the nation.

    Remember when Obama campaigned on letting middle-aged men in dresses use the girl’s bathroom?

    Me neither.

    Out beyond a small but very vocal minority of Social Justice Warriors, no one was asking for tranny bathrooms, and outside of locales like San Francisco, I doubt even Democratic politicians are willing to campaign for them. That is why they had to be introduced by stealth and fiat.

    Tranny bathrooms represent the high-water mark of the hard left’s attempts to impose the idea of “gender as social construct” (as opposed to the obvious scientific truth of two biological sexes) on a resisting nation. That is why the cultural elites have been so desperate to defend the idea despite its widespread unpopularity. If you can get people to pretend a man wearing a dress has been magically transformed into a woman, despite the XY chromosomes in his body, you can get them to pretend to believe in just about anything.

    That’s why the left has fought the rollback so hard, why North Carolina had to be “punished” for daring to respect obvious scientific and time-honored truths rather than “gender fluid” fad popular among liberal elites.

    It remains to be seen whether Texas House speaker Joe Straus will bow to the will of the people, or to the cowardly business interests desperate to avoid elite wrath. Since Straus has never met a Democratic interest he wasn’t willing to cave to, it may require a concerted effort (perhaps by way of a discharge petition) to get HB 1362 voted on.

    LinkSwarm for March 17, 2017

    Friday, March 17th, 2017

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Insert your own Irish-related drinking joke here.

  • President Trump’s approval ratings rise.
  • Did Obama use a British intelligence agency to spy on Trump? (Maybe not.)
  • Did the Obama Administration use Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as a slush fund to pay for ObamaCare?
  • Senate Democrats are paralized what do to over Neil Gorsuch. Everyone agrees Gorsuch is extremely qualified, but the leftwing nutroots are threatening to primary any Democrat who votes to confirm him. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Finally: “A House panel held a hearing on possibly splitting the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday morning.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In talking about the House GOP’s pathetic ObamaCare replacement, Stephen Green hits the nail on the head: “Congress is warped because the American electorate has yet to accept that other people’s money does eventually run out — and that we are all the other people.” That’s why we need someone committed to reform in the White House, and Greece and Venezuela’s examples fresh in the public’s eye…
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: “What we reject is immigration without assimilation.” (Hat tip: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)
  • ICE arrests 248 illegal aliens, most in the sanctuary city of Philadelphia. “20 had a conviction and/or pending charges or 48 percent (88 of those arrested had criminal convictions and 32 of those arrested have pending criminal charges). In addition, 50 had been previously removed from the United States and subsequently illegally re-entered.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Meanwhile, in Australia: “Teacher quits after primary school students threaten to behead her.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Iraqi government forces besieged Islamic State militants around Mosul’s Old City on Thursday, edging closer to the historic mosque from where the group’s leader declared a caliphate nearly three years ago.”
  • Former Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich says that one of his phonecalls was wiretapped. “If a member of Congress can have his phone tapped, this can happen to anybody.”
  • Ten Senate Democrats are vulnerable in 2018. They’re prime targets for takedowns in the midterm elections. But the process starts now, not then…In order of vulnerability (most to least), the target list features: 1) Joe Donnelly-IN; 2) Bill Nelson-FL; 3) Sherrod Brown-OH; 4) Claire McCaskill-MO; 5) Heidi Heitkamp-ND; 6) Tammy Baldwin-WI; 7) Jon Tester-MN; 8) Joe Manchin-WV; 9) Debbie Stabenow-MI; 10) Bob Casey, Jr.-PA.” Agree with the list, but not the order, since Heitkamp hails from a state Trump won by 36 points. But seeing Stupak bloc flip-flopper Donnelly go down at last would be extremely satisfying…
  • Breakdown of 2016 Presidential race demographics. Least likely to vote for Trump: Black single women. Most likely to vote for Trump: Mormons. Usual poll caveats apply. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Remember convicted felon Brett Kimberlin? There’s always some Kimberlin news floating around the blogsphere, usually in relation to his latest ludicrous lawsuit getting laughed out of court. But this week he made the news for being involved in selling hoax documents designed to bring down Donald Trump. “The entire set of documents appear to have been forged as part of an elaborate scam.” So, like most Kimberlin escapades, the story ends in embarrassing failure. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Cenk Uygur: Why the Democratic Party is useless. 1. As with all these critiques of the Democratic Party from the left, it’s right about the party being a corrupt institution for entrenched interests and wrong about America being gung ho for socialism. 2. Boy, that “not being polite” stuff sure helped Democrats recall Scott Walker! 3. “Cenk Uygur” sounds like a dark, forbidding fortress at the edge of Mordor.
  • Holland is the canary in the European coalmine of radical Islamization. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Speaking of Holland, Geert Wilders placed second in Dutch elections, which falls short of a serious challenge to the Islamophillic and Eurocentric establishment.
  • Dear Sen. McCain: (Sigh).
  • Rand Paul fires back: “He makes a really, really strong case for term limits. I think maybe he’s past his prime. I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.”
  • Germany wants to fine companies for not censoring fast enough. What do you want to bet that objections to the rousing success of their Muslim immigration policy are first on the list of things to be censored?
  • Camille Paglia has a new book out, and offers up an interview where she talks about modern feminism (against), southern women (for), working class men (for), Michel Foucault (against), and pornography (for).
  • Soros Fellow Flees Country While Wife Arrested For Welfare Scam.” It seems that earning $1.5 million a year at the Washington, D.C., offices of Mayer Brown LLP just wasn’t enough for Fidelis Agbapuruonwu… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Three #BlackLivesMatter protestors arrested for beating up a homeless man.
  • Man gets a C when he should have gotten an A for a school assignment. So he did what any of us would have done: Successfully amends the Constitution. (Hat tip: Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett’s Twitter feed.)
  • Dwight has some Austin-related memoes from the police beat.
  • “Coming up next on Most ShockingMormon Justice!”
  • King King burns.
  • He divided them again!
  • Schumer steals again. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Singer Kelly Clarkson is selling her Tennessee mansion. I like how it’s half typical rich-person mansion, and half Bass Pro Shop…
  • LinkSwarm for March 3, 2017

    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! (On a personal note, if you know of any technical writing positions here in the Austin area, please let me know.)

  • U.S. troops in Iraq finally get to enjoy sane rules of engagement. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • George Soros-funded group is providing scripts for those “spontaneous” town hall protests. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • For many Democrats, President Trump’s joint address was the first time they actual heard and saw him unfiltered. “He just crushed the Drive-By [Media] last night. He just crushed them. He just blew up every narrative they’ve established on the guy. And they don’t even realize it.”
  • “As one might imagine given the Democrats’ breathtaking electoral collapse, there is basically nothing but bad news for Democrats across the board. The data showed that the voting patterns of key demographic groups shifted dramatically downward from 2008 through 2016.” More: “Contrary to the emerging Democratic majority thesis, there does not seem to be any demographic category with which Democrats are progressively improving.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Maine: Want to work for a living? Welfare recipient: Nah! Maine: Well then, I guess you won’t be needing these food stamps.
  • Man arrested for making threats to Jewish groups is a Bernie Bro and former reporter for The Intercept. Bonus 1: His Twitter page calls capitalists “bloodsuckers.” Gee, that rhetoric seems familiar somehow… Bonus 2: This is hot on the heels of another Intercept writer poo-pooing the idea that Democrats might be targeting Jews.
  • “The Congressional Review Act of 1996 is a ‘sleeper statute’ (aka, a secret weapon) in that its practical application took 20 years to enter the realm of viable possibility. The CRA allows Congress to overturn executive regulations by a simple majority—and this is the moment it’s been waiting for.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • TBS guy at CPAC asks DA Tech Guy to help him make fake news.(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • No. Just no. And how come SMONE ELSE isn’t running away with the race?
  • “Trump Was Right: Large Amounts of Actionable Intelligence Found in Yemen Raid.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leading French Presidential candidate Francois Fillon investigated for paying his own family “€1m ($1.05m) of public money for allegedly fake jobs.”
  • Geert Wilders’ party is poised to win the most votes in Dutch elections March 15. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Members of an elite Baltimore Police Department squad charged with getting guns off the streets gets hit with federal racketeering charges and held for trial without bail. More: “In one case, four of the officers are alleged to have stolen $200,000 from a safe and bags and a watch valued at $4,000. In July 2016, three officers conspired to impersonate a federal officer in order to steal $20,000 in cash.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Apple Board Member Al Gore makes $29 million in profit selling Apple stock.
  • Authenticity is bunk. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Help me Watergate, you’re my only hope!

    The NYT and the Washington Post have a motivation to ally with the Democratic Party in its last-ditch effort to Watergatize Trump after Trump’s endless criticisms of them. And this anti-Trump approach may get them a spike in readership, even as it repels some readers like me.

    I’m missing the sense that I’m getting the normal news. It seems unfair and shoddy not to cover the President the way you’d cover any President. What looks like an effort to stigmatize Trump as not normal has — to my eyes — made the media abnormal.

    Snip.

    The more seemingly normal Trump becomes — as with his speech to Congress the other day — the more the anti-Trump approach of the news media feels like a hackish alliance with the Democratic Party in its sad, negative, backward-looking effort to disrupt the President the people elected.

  • Have any of my friends lost a gun transiting Austin Bergstrom Airport? If so, a baggage handler may have stole your gun to trade for pot.

    Austin police have charged Matthew Bartlett, 21, and Catronn Hewitt, 36, with felony possession of marijuana, police said in a news release.

    Ja’Quan Johnson, 25, was charged with federal charges in connection with the thefts. Johnson is a contract baggage handler at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and is believed to have been behind the thefts, according to police and the Justice Department.

    Buying pot? Likely misdemeanor charge. But stealing guns from airport luggage is likely an interstate federal gun trafficking felony. Also: Our airport security is in the best of hands!

  • Houston Chronicle to move its call center from the Philippines to Dallas. 1. Who thought it was a good idea to move it to the Philippines in the first place? 2. “The move will result in 130 new jobs for Texas.” Why does the Chronicle need 130 people in its call center? 3. Dallas? Really? Because it’s evidently impossible to locate a call center in the 4th largest city in America…
  • SEC charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed. A state felony trail is pending, but given that the state charges are based on the same issue as the SEC case just dismissed, chances of a conviction would appear to be very slim. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Trump Derangement Syndrome in La La Land.
  • How was I to know/She was with the Russians too?

  • Speaking of which:

  • Indeed, “Russia!” is now the go-to move for the media the same way a bad video game player will just use the same button combination over and over again:

  • More CNN fakery:

  • Happiest stinkiest place in the world. (Hat tip: Director Blue.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio flew eyebrow artist 7,500 miles to do his brows for the Oscars. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Insecure Mongo DB run by toy company hit with ransomware.
  • Ever wanted Mickey Spillane’ typewriter or his World War II uniform? Now’s your chance. I already put in a bid on Spillane’s concealed gun permit…
  • UT Abandons Plans to Expand to Houston

    Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

    This is biggish news: The University of Texas system is cancelling it’s controversial plans for a huge new campus in Houston:

    Chancellor William McRaven said Wednesday he will no longer pursue a project on 300-plus acres in Houston.

    “I was not able to develop a shared vision,” McRaven said in a press conference Wednesday. “I wasn’t able to get the stakeholders necessary to move forward.”

    McRaven said Wednesday that the system planned a data science institute for the land. The center would focus on energy, health and education data. Aspects of this plan may proceed at the system’s universities around the state.

    UT acquired the land for $215 million but, until today, did not disclose what the university planned to build. McRaven recommended to the regents that UT’s real estate office begin work to sell the land.

    McRaven faced criticism from Texas lawmakers because he did not apprise them before buying the property. Sen. John Whitmire recently called the property a “dump.”

    State Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, said Wednesday that he respected UT’s decision. “I met with UT administration and leadership several times, and questioned the recently appointed regents regarding this purchase at their nomination hearing,” he said in a statement.

    With an anticipated tight state budget — the Senate wants to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in higher education funding cuts to higher education — lawmakers have questioned the need for UT’s venture in Houston.

    The chancellor acknowledged to state lawmakers in a Feb. 13 letter that much of the Houston land was an abandoned oil field and a few of the acres are polluted by a former polymer facility on the site.

    The UT plan to expand into Houston was always controversial, not least because they just announced “Hey, we’re going to buy all this land in Houston and build a big campus” without informing anyone prior to the purchase, or telling them, until quite recently, the intended purpose. The costs of a large expansion and the difficulty of brownfield remediation during a time of budget austerity were secondary issues compared to the number of local toes UT stepped on in the process. The appropriate wheels and palms were not greased prior to the announcement, and local interests (including the University of Houston) were opposed from the get-go.

    I’m also pretty sure that UT can find better uses for that $215 million (or however much they manage to reclaim by selling the land).

    And if UT really wanted a data science institute, I’m pretty sure you could find land for that in Austin…

    Obama-Pardoned Drug Dealer Back in Jail

    Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

    Boy, Obama sure can pick them:

    A Texas man whose life sentence on drug charges was commuted by former President Obama is back behind bars after cops caught him with more than two pounds of cocaine following a high-speed chase, according to a report.

    Robert M. Gill, 68, had been imprisoned in 1990 for for cocaine and heroin distribution before Obama set him free along with other non-violent federal inmates in 2015, the San Antonio Express News reported.

    Really, who hasn’t been arrest with two pounds of cocaine in their car?

    Could happen to anyone.

    Whether drug dealers or jihadists at Guantanamo Bay, our 44th President had a gift for releasing those with a penchant for recidivism…

    LinkSwarm for February 24, 2017

    Friday, February 24th, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Here in Texas, Spring has sprung, full stop.

  • The elites are revolting:

    It’s no coincidence that the most vocal outcry against President Trump’s measures have come from urban elites and the corporations that cater to them. It’s easy to spot the class divides in the scoffing at Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company behind Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, getting a cabinet position instead of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg who had been tipped for Treasury Secretary by Hillary.

    Carl’s Jr and its 4 Dollar Real Deal are a world away from Facebook’s Gehry designed Menlo Park headquarters. Or as a WWE tournament is from Conde Nast’s Manhattan skyscraper.

    It’s hard to imagine a clearer contrast between coastal elites and the heartland, and between the new economy and the old. On the one side are the glittering cities where workforces of minorities and immigrants do the dirty work behind the slick logos and buzzwords of the new economy. On the other are Rust Belt communities and Southern towns who actually used to make things.

    Facebook’s top tier geniuses enjoy the services of an executive chef, treadmill workstations and a bike repair shop walled off from East Palo Alto’s Latino population and the crime and gang violence. And who works in Facebook’s 11 restaurants or actually repairs the bikes in the back room? Or looks through the millions of pictures posted on timelines to screen out spam, pornography and racism?

    Behind the illusion of a shiny new future are Mexicans getting paid a few dollars an hour to decide if that Italian Renaissance painting you just shared violates Facebook’s content guidelines.

    If you live in the world of Facebook, Lyft, Netflix and Airbnb, crowding into airports shouting, “No Borders, No Nations, Stop The Deportations” makes sense. You don’t live in a country. You live in one of a number of interchangeable megacities or their bedroom communities. Patriotism is a foreign concept. You have no more attachment to America than you do to Friendster or MySpace. The nation state is an outdated system of social organization that is being replaced by more efficient systems of global governance. The only reason anyone would cling to nations or borders is racism.

    The demographic most opposed to President Trump is not a racial minority, but a cultural elite.

    This isn’t a revolution. The revolutions happened in June in the UK and in November in the US. Brexit and Trump were revolutions. The protests against them are a reaction.

  • In the midst of freaking out, Instapundit notes that our elites are displaying why they’re unfit to rule:

    Why all the anger over Trump?

    As I’ve pondered this, I’ve gone back to Tyler Cowen’s statement: “Occasionally the real force behind a political ideology is the subconsciously held desire that a certain group of people should not be allowed to rise in relative status.”

    I think that a lot of the elite hatred for Trump, and for his supporters, stems from just such a sentiment. For decades now, the educated meritocrats who ran America — the “Best and the Brightest,” in David Halberstam’s not-actually-complimentary term — have enjoyed tremendous status, regardless of election results.

    An election’s turn might see some moving to the private sector — say as K street lobbyists or high-priced lawyers or consultants — while a different batch of meritocrats take their positions in government. But even so, their status remained unchallenged: They were always the insiders, the elite, the winners, regardless of which team came out ahead in the elections.

    But as Nicholas Ebserstadt notes, that changed in November. To the privileged and well-educated Americans living in their “bicoastal bastions,” things seemed to be going quite well, even as the rest of the country fell farther and farther behind. But, writes Eberstadt: “It turns out that the year 2000 marks a grim historical milestone of sorts for our nation. For whatever reasons, the Great American Escalator, which had lifted successive generations of Americans to ever higher standards of living and levels of social well-being, broke down around then — and broke down very badly.

    “The warning lights have been flashing, and the klaxons sounding, for more than a decade and a half. But our pundits and prognosticators and professors and policymakers, ensconced as they generally are deep within the bubble, were for the most part too distant from the distress of the general population to see or hear it.”

    Well, now they’ve heard it, and they’ve also heard that a lot of Americans resent the meritocrats’ insulation from what’s happening elsewhere, especially as America’s unfortunate record over the past couple of decades, whether in economics, in politics, or in foreign policy, doesn’t suggest that the “meritocracy” is overflowing with, you know, actual merit.

    In the United States, the result has been Trump. In Britain, the result was Brexit. In both cases, the allegedly elite — who are supposed to be cool, considered, and above the vulgar passions of the masses — went more or less crazy. From conspiracy theories (it was the Russians!) to bizarre escape fantasies (A Brexit vote redo! A military coup to oust Trump!) the cognitive elite suddenly didn’t seem especially elite, or for that matter particularly cognitive.

    In fact, while America was losing wars abroad and jobs at home, elites seemed focused on things that were, well, faintly ridiculous. As Richard Fernandez tweeted: “The elites lost their mojo by becoming absurd. It happened on the road between cultural appropriation and transgender bathrooms.” It was fatal: “People believe from instinct. The Roman gods became ridiculous when the Roman emperors did. PC is the equivalent of Caligula’s horse.”

  • You have to read this Glenn Greenwald piece on what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. “The more alarmed one is by the Trump administration, the more one should focus on how to fix the systemic, fundamental sickness of the Democratic Party. That Hillary Clinton won the meaningless popular vote on her way to losing to Donald Trump, and that the singular charisma of Barack Obama kept him popular, have enabled many to ignore just how broken and failed the Democrats are as a national political force.” Never mind that Greenwald ignores one of the big elephants in the room (the Social Justice Warrior/victimhood identity politics brigade doing such a bang-up job alienating American voters). His description of the other elephant in the room, the party’s fundamentally corrupt and anti-Democratic nature, is fairly acute.
  • The number of Republicans passes the number of Democrats in Gallup’s Party ID tracking poll. This has happened a few times before, but the mere 25% for Democrats does appear to be the lowest rating ever.
  • All the Trump Derangement is masking the Democratic Party’s own civil war. “There is no Barack Obama among the ranks of current Democrats. He simply does not exist. That truth, and Hillary’s defeat, means the years ahead will be ones of rebuilding and rebranding. So far, it’s not going well.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Seven days in February. “Why were former Obama-administration appointees or careerist officials tapping the phone calls of an incoming Trump designate and then leaking the tapes to their pets in the press?” Also this: “The Democratic party has been absorbed by its left wing and is beginning to resemble the impotent British Labour party. Certainly it no longer is a national party.”
  • “The Social Security Administration paid $1 billion in benefits to individuals who did not have a Social Security Number.”
  • “This is what Chuck Todd and others like him fail to accept or comprehend: The mainstream media have delegitimized themselves. Republicans and independents watched for eight long years as Todd and others of his ilk did their best to help and support the last administration; not only refusing to hold President Obama to account (the way they are imploring each other to do with Trump) but providing cover for him.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Turns out that patiently explaining to the deplorable redneck freaks of JesusLand why they’re ignorant rubes that need to be ruled for their own good doesn’t win votes.
  • MSNBC: Controlling what people thing is our job.
  • A look at the shell games played by the dark money left. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • With President Trump, America has an administration that is finally willing to name radical Islam as the enemy.
  • Women celebrate being liberated from the Islamic State. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • President Trump contemplates designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and the New York Times freaks out. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Texas preschool teacher fired for tweeting to “kill some Jews.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Marine Le Pen is winning over French women. In addition to refusing to wear a headscarf, “Le Pen again vowed to protect French women after the mass sexual assault by groups of men in Cologne, Germany, just over a year ago in an op-ed that tied together immigration and women rights.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Part of Geert Wilders’ security detail has been suspended for possibly leaking details of Wilders locations to Jihadest groups. “Secret Service chief Erik Akerboom said he could not confirm the man’s identity but confirmed media reports he has a ‘Moroccan background.'”
  • Fourth circuit court decides to just ignore Heller.
  • The AFL-CIO is is cutting staff “amid continuing declines in union membership.” Faster, please. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Paul Krugman, the Cleveland Browns of economists. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • If you’re looking for a pundit with a clear-eyed vision of where President Donald Trump is going, Ross Douthat is not your man.
  • NASA contemplates a bold leap forward to 1968.
  • Men who SWATed, sent heroin to Brian Krebs’ house sentenced.
  • Cahnman’s Musings has a roundup of what various school district Superintendents make. It’s an interesting list, though I personally would not have broken it up by Texas House committee chairman. I’m not surprised that they average a low six figures, or that the Superintendents of Houston and Dallas ISD make in excess of $300,000. Why I don’t understand is why the Superintendent for Galena Park ISD, a working class school district with 22,549 students and a single 4A high school, makes $270,531, or 90% of the what the HISD Superintendent makes…
  • Feminist derangement syndrome: “I was walking into a gas station for a bottle of water when the man behind me stepped up to open the door for me. With that act of kindness, something inside me snapped and I flew into a blind rage. I began screaming at him at the top of my lungs.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Trump Administration to Social Justice Warriors: No tranny bathrooms for you!
  • “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women” says ex-WNBA player Candice Wiggins, who says she was bullied and harassed for being straight. This is not exactly a surprise, thought that 98% number may be slightly high. I casually followed the WNBA back when the Houston Comets were dominating the league, but haven’t paid attention since they folded. Today half of the teams still lose money. But I’m sure their popularity will skyrocket any day now…

  • Vice President Mike Pence helps repair vandalism at a Jewish cemetery.
  • I have heard the bots reverting, each to each. I do not think that they will revert for me…
  • Are you smuggeling illegal butter, comrade?
  • Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti’s Offices Raided by FBI, IRS

    Thursday, February 16th, 2017

    Via Dwight comes word that the offices of Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti have been raided by the FBI and the IRS:

    Agents have been confiscating documents from the office of the Democratic lawmaker.

    “I can confirm the FBI and IRS are lawfully present and conducting a lawful law enforcement activity,” FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee told the Express-News.

    Lee also said no arrests have been made so far.

    Uresti is currently facing a grand jury investigation into possible public corruption charges related to his involvement with FourWinds, a San Antonio oil-field services company accused of defrauding investors.

    While Uresti is “innocent until proven guilty,” having both the FBI and IRS lawfully conducting lawful law enforcement in your office is not a good sign.

    When last we checked on Sen. Uresti, he was sharing a bathroom with a female staffer not his wife and involved in the UT admissions scandal.

    Here’s more on the FourWinds story, which I had not been previously following:

    The one-time marketing director for a bankrupt San Antonio frac-sand company with ties to state Sen. Carlos Uresti has been criminally charged in an alleged scheme to defraud investors.

    On Wednesday, Eric Nelson was charged in an information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly altering a FourWinds Logistics’ bank statement to inflate the amount of money in the account. The bank statement was then mailed by an unnamed co-conspirator to prospective investors, according to the charging document.

    Nelson has agreed to a plea deal, according to sources, but records show that it is sealed. His attorneys declined to comment.

    The San Antonio Express-News in August chronicled the demise of FourWinds, which had more than $14 million in claims against it. Investors have alleged that CEO Stan Bates wasted their money on personal expenses, expensive gifts, exotic car rentals and lavish vacation, according to a court document. Bates has denied the allegations.

    Uresti provided legal services for FourWinds and served as its outside general counsel for four or five months in 2014, he said in an interview this summer. He received FourWinds shares, as well as a $40,000 loan from the company that he failed to disclose initially. He also collected a $27,000 commission on a Harlingen woman’s $900,000 investment in a joint venture with FourWinds. The woman ended up losing about $800,000.

    Really, who of us hasn’t forgotten a $40,000 loan? “Oh yeah! That little thing! Sorry, totally slipped my mind!”

    Uncle Sam’s mills grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. One way or another, I suspect Republicans will view Uresti’s west Texas District 19 as a pickup target in 2020…if not sooner…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 15, 2017

    Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

    Welcome to another Texas vs. California Roundup!

  • California Governor Jerry Brown wants to hike gas taxes by 42% to bail out CalPERS.
  • Brown’s pension reforms have failed:

    Since 2012 passage of his much-heralded changes to state retirement laws for public employee, the pension debt foisted on California taxpayers has only grown larger.

    The shortfall for California’s three statewide retirement systems has increased about 36 percent. Add in local pension systems and the total debt has reached at least $374 billion. That works out to about $29,000 per household.

    It’s actually much worse than that. Those numbers are calculated using the pension systems’ overly optimistic assumptions about future investment earnings.

    Using more conservative assumptions, the debt could be more than $1 trillion.

  • And speaking of Brown: Math is hard.
  • Why California can’t repair its infrastructure: “California’s government, like the federal government and most other state and local governments, spends its money on salaries, benefits, pensions, and other forms of employee compensation. The numbers are contentious — for obvious political reasons — but it is estimated that something between half and 80 percent of California’s state and local spending ultimately goes to employee compensation.”
  • Put another way: “Governor Moonbeam and the other leftist kooks in charge are flushing a staggering $10 billion down an unneeded high-speed rail project, on top of the still more staggering $25.3 billion per year they spend on the illegal aliens they have gone out of their way to welcome.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California can’t afford green energy:

    California has the highest taxes overall in the nation, worst roads, underperforming schools, and the recent budget has at least a $1.6 billion shortfall.

    Moreover, depending on how the numbers are analyzed California has either a $1.3 or a $2.8 trillion outstanding debt. This is before counting the maintenance work needed for infrastructure, particularly roads, bridges and water systems. Yet tax increases aren’t covering these obligations.

  • Three of the ten least affordable cities in the World are in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.
  • Austin named best city to live in the U.S. But wait! San Jose ranks third! I can only assume that “affordability” was not a significant criteria. Dallas/Ft. Worth ranks 15th (one ahead of San Francisco), Houston 20th, San Antonio 23rd (one behind San Diego).
  • “A sizzling residential real estate market fueled by incoming Californians, low supply, high demand, flat salaries, and local property taxes are pricing people out of homeownership in Austin.” More: “The Texas A&M Real Estate Center examined the Austin local market area (LMA) over five years. In January 2011, the Austin-Georgetown-Round Rock area median home prices were $199,700. By January 2015, that median hovered at $287,000. At the end of 2016, university real estate analysts found the home mid-price point at $332,000.” Of course, in my neck of the woods, $332,000 will buy you a 2,500 square foot house, while in San Francisco, you’d be lucky to find a 500 square foot condo…
  • “An IGS-UC Berkeley poll shows that 74 percent of Californians want sanctuary cities ended; 65 percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans.”
  • Of the top 20 cities for illegal aliens, five (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Riverside) are in California, while three (Houston, Austin and Dallas/Ft. Worth) are in Texas. I’m actually a bit surprised to see that San Antonio isn’t on that list, while Seattle and Boston are. “American citizens who paid into the system don’t receive benefits like long-term medical care because — in part — we’re all subsidizing aliens.”
  • California pays $25.3 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $2,370 per household. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • By contrast, Texas pays $12.1 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $1,187 per household. (IBID)
  • “In testimony provided before the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) decided to admit that “half of his family” is residing in the United States illegally and with the possession of falsified Social Security Cards and green cards.”
  • “California spent on high-speed rail and illegal immigrants, but ignored Oroville Dam.”
  • Pensions are breaking budgets across San Diego. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Despite California having some of the best recreation spots in the world, we have systematically reduced our business in California by 50%, and I have a moratorium in place on accepting new business (I won’t even look at RFP’s and proposals to avoid being tempted.)”
  • That same blogger on why his company pulled out of Ventura, California. Like this:

    It took years in Ventura County to make even the simplest modifications to the campground we ran. For example, it took 7 separate permits from the County (each requiring a substantial payment) just to remove a wooden deck that the County inspector had condemned. In order to allow us to temporarily park a small concession trailer in the parking lot, we had to (among other steps) take a soil sample of the dirt under the asphalt of the parking lot. It took 3 years to permit a simple 500 gallon fuel tank with CARB and the County equivalent. The entire campground desperately needed a major renovation but the smallest change would have triggered millions of dollars of new facility requirements from the County that we simply could not afford.

    And this:

    A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing “safe” harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

  • California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, but can’t pay for road maintenance:

    Texas has no state income tax, yet excellent highways and schools that perform above average, way above California’s bottom-dwellers. Yet both states have similar demographics. For example, in the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas was 37% Hispanic, California 37.6%.

    Texas is a First World state with no state income tax that enjoys great roads and schools. California is a Third World state restrained from getting worse only by its umbilical-cord attachment to the other 49 states, a cord the Calexit movement wants to cut, but won’t get to.

    California is Venezuela on the Pacific, a Third World state and wannabe Third World country; a place with great natural beauty, talented people, natural resources – and a government run by oligarchs and functionaries who treat the rest of us as peons.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “Texas Ends 2016 with 210,200 Jobs Added Over the Year.”
  • All Houston does economically is win.

    The Houston metropolitan area’s population now stands at 6.6 million with the city itself a shade under 2.3 million. At its current rate of growth, Houston could replace Chicago as the nation’s third-largest city by 2030.

    Why would anyone move to Houston? Start with the economic record.

    Since 2000, no major metro region in America except for archrival Dallas-Fort Worth has created more jobs and attracted more people. Houston’s job base has expanded 36.5%; in comparison, New York employment is up 16.6%, the Bay Area 11.8%, and Chicago a measly 5.1%. Since 2010 alone, a half million jobs have been added.

    Some like Paul Krugman have dismissed Texas’ economic expansion, much of it concentrated in its largest cities, as primarily involving low-wage jobs, but employment in the Houston area’s professional and service sector, the largest source of high-wage jobs, has grown 48% since 2000, a rate almost twice that of the San Francisco region, two and half times that of New York or Chicago, and more than four times Los Angeles. In terms of STEM jobs the Bay Area has done slightly better, but Houston, with 22% job growth in STEM fields since 2001, has easily surpassed New York (2%), Los Angeles (flat) and Chicago (-3%).

    More important still, Houston, like other Texas cities, has done well in creating middle-class jobs, those paying between 80% and 200% of the median wage. Since 2001 Houston has boosted its middle-class employment by 26% compared to a 6% expansion nationally, according to the forecasting firm EMSI. This easily surpasses the record for all the cities preferred by our media and financial hegemons, including Washington (11%) and San Francisco (6%), and it’s far ahead of Los Angeles (4%), New York (3%) and Chicago, which lost 3% of its middle-class employment.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas conservative budget overview vs. the 2018-2019 proposed budget.
  • On the same subject: how to reduce the footprint of Texas government.
  • “Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: it takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students.”
  • New LA housing initiative to undo previous housing initiative. Frankly all of them sound like market-distorting initiatives guaranteed to backfire…
  • “California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
  • “For the past five months, BART has been staffing its yet-to-open Warm Springs Station full time with five $73,609-a-year station agents and an $89,806-a-year train dispatch supervisor — even though no trains will be running there for at least another two months.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “After studying “tens of thousands of restaurants in the San Francisco area,” researchers Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research found that many lower rated restaurants have a unique way of dealing with minimum wage hikes: they simply go out of business.”
  • Meet Gordon, the robot barista. How’s that $15 an hour minimum wage working out for you, San Francisco?
  • “Nestle USA announced today that it is moving 300 technical, production and supply chain jobs to the Solon [Ohio] plant as part of the company’s plan to relocate its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia, from Glendale, California.”
  • Auto dealer AutoAlert is moving it’s headquarters from Irvine, California to Kansas City.
  • Peter Thiel to run for governor of California?
  • The Oakland Raiders may not be moving to Las Vegas after all, because billionaire Sheldon Adelson backed out of the stadium deal, accusing Raider owner Mark Davis of trying to screw him.
  • Now there’s talk the Raiders may rexamine moving to San Antonio.
  • Or even Dan Diego.
  • Lawsuits are flying over the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund debacle. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)