Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Dukes Case Ends With Wimper

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

“Travis County prosecutors dropped all of the remaining charges against longtime state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Monday, bringing an end to a legal soap opera that could have put the lawmaker behind bars.”

Snip.

“Moore pinned the case’s collapse on conflicting statements given by Steve Adrian, a top official in the Texas House, who had told prosecutors that travel to the Capitol was required to earn the per-diem payments but later recanted in a statement to Dukes’ lawyers.”

This is odd, as a most of the charges against Dukes had nothing to do with the per diem abuse issue.

(Hat tip: Dwight.)

Happy 111th Birthday to Veteran Richard Overton!

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

BattleSwarmBlog would like to wish a happy (belated) 111th birthday to fellow Austinite Richard Overton, who, at the spry age of 111, is America’s oldest living veteran!

Another point of congratulation: After 70 years in the same house in Austin, he just got air conditioning for the first time…

LinkSwarm for September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Welcome to the first LinkSwarm of fall! Between a new job, car trouble, dog trouble and iPhone updates, you’re lucky there’s a LinkSwarm at all!

  • Final total for J.J. Watt’s YouCaring campaign: $37,131,967.
  • Death toll in the Mexico City earthquake hits 273.
  • Mexican rescue dog saves over 50 lives.
  • 100% of Puerto Rico is without power following Hurricane Maria.
  • Obama Administration official Samantha Power asked for over 260 unmaskings of American citizens. “She continued to seek identifying information about Americans caught up in incidental surveillance right up to President Trump’s inauguration.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • And Obama’s FBI Director James Comey was apparently eavesdropping on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “House IT Worker At Center Of Scandal Allegedly Abused Three Muslim Women.” “Multiple women in relationships with Imran Awan, the indicted former IT aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have recently called Virginia law enforcement and alleged being abused by him, police reports obtained under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act show.”
  • President Trump didn’t forget Poland.
  • “The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.” People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.”
  • “Federal Prosecutors Say Anthony Weiner Convinced [15-year old] Teen To Strip, Touch Herself On Skype.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Evergreen State College has settled a tort claim against it from embattled Professor Bret Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, for $500,000, according to an email sent to faculty Friday evening.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Article on the decline of NFL ratings offers and explanation in the comments section: “One after another, cogent, thoughtful comments clearly stating the exact reason that life long NFL fans have turned off the TV, dropped their cable subscription, and moved on.” Sample: “There will be no NFL at my house until the employment of players that disrespect our flag and anthem is terminated.”
  • More signs of NFL’s decline in popularity: Los Angeles Rams can’ even sell out their temporary stadium. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Flashback: Ted Kennedy, drunken serial sexual molester.
  • Wisconsin appeals court dismisses union lawsuit against right-to-work law.
  • Armed citizen stops would-be rapist near downtown Austin. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Scientists create world’s first ‘molecular robot’ capable of building molecules.” No indication these 150-atom “robots” can contain programming or self-replicate, so we’re still a long way from K. Eric Drexler’s nanotechnology…
  • Valerie Plame steps in it:

  • Your Tax Dollars At Work: Democrat Rep. Dawnna Dukes Spent $51,348 in Taxpayer Money on Telephone Psychics

    Thursday, September 21st, 2017

    Having been busy with Stuff and Things, Dwight beat me to the punch on the last news on the upcoming corruption trial against State Democratic Representative Dawnna Dukes. But the latest revelation is a doozy:

    As they prepare for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ corruption trial next month, Travis County prosecutors are prepared to present evidence that she showed up to work at the Capitol impaired, hid a cellphone from investigators and spent more than $51,000 on an online psychic.

    At least with regular draft, you can understand how the corrupt pol benefits. Blowing $51 grand of taxpayer money on Miss Cleao just adds insult to idiocy.

    More of Dukes’ Greatest Hits:

    In other “extraneous acts” listed in the filing, prosecutors say Dukes:

  • Was absent for roll call 65 percent of the time during the 2017 legislative regular session, and 36 percent of the time in the special session.
  • Responded to a search warrant for her cellphone by providing investigators a phone that did not match the identification number on the phone they had requested
  • Was noticeably impaired while trying to perform legislative duties at the Capitol and showed up late to a House Appropriations Committee hearing on March 29, stating, “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon.”
  • Agreed to a contract with the Austin school district for her company, DM Dukes and Associates, to provide business evaluations but subcontracted the work to a consulting firm. The district paid Dukes $514,224 from May 2015 to March 2016.
  • Arrived late to court settings on June 30 and Aug. 21. Judge Brad Urrutia threatened to hold Dukes in contempt if she does it again.
  • Failed to submit in a timely fashion both a campaign finance report before the 2016 election and a 2017 personal financial statement. She was fined $1,000.
  • It’s a veritable buffet of bad behavior, and I look forward to Dukes appearing on Most Shocking: Legislators Out of Control.

    Texas Gas Shortage Ends

    Monday, September 11th, 2017

    The short-lived post-Harvey gas shortage is pretty much already over:

    Long lines for gasoline in Austin and elsewhere in the state have dissipated for the most part along with the short-lived, social media-fueled frenzy over fears of a severe shortage.

    Motorists remain more likely than before Hurricane Harvey hit to encounter the occasional empty filling stations, and gas prices remain elevated, but “the run (on gas) has stopped,” said Cary Rabb, owner of the Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag convenience store chain.

    “It’s the panic buying that has stopped — at some point, everybody has topped off,” Rabb said.

    In addition, gasoline supplies are becoming more accessible as Gulf Coast refineries and pipelines slowly come back on line after being closed since Harvey made landfall.

    Flint Hills Resources — which operates a Corpus Christi refinery that provides the bulk of gasoline dispensed at Austin area gas stations — “has resumed normal operations,” company spokesman Andy Saenz said Wednesday. The Flint Hills refinery had been shut down since the storm hit, leaving area fuel distributors to tap reserves.

    Flint Hills pumps gasoline to an Austin terminal east of Interstate 35 through a pipeline, where it’s picked up by distributors with tanker trucks and transported to local gas stations.

    Thanks to Hurricane Irma (now downgraded to a tropical storm), it’s Florida that’s suffering gas shortages, not least because Florida is dependent on those same gulf coast refineries idled by Harvey:

    Between 2007 and 2014, Florida’s daily gasoline consumption shrank significantly — by about 90,000 barrels. In 2012, two Caribbean refineries that had supplied Florida with a significant share of its gasoline were idled, leaving Florida more dependent upon refineries located along the Gulf Coast. That’s all well and good when the weather is fair, but Hurricane Harvey disrupted things. For one thing, it forced the shutdown of several refineries in the Houston area. For another, it made navigating the Gulf of Mexico treacherous — you don’t want to sail an oil barge into a hurricane. And there is no gasoline pipeline connecting those Gulf Coast refineries to Florida: that trade is conducted by boat. Pipelines are the cheapest and safest way to move petroleum products from producers to consumers, but America’s fanatical environmentalists, who oppose the development of new energy infrastructure categorically, have been remarkably successful in blocking or delaying the development of new pipelines.

    So far Irma seems to have devastated the Caribbean, but damage to Florida seems to be less than feared for such a large storm.

    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.

    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 14, 2017

    Friday, July 14th, 2017

    Since I just topped up my Strategic Dog Reserve, blogging may get light at some point. But in the meantime, enjoy another Friday LinkSwarm:

  • This may be what’s driving some Democrats’ idee fixe on Russia: a guilty conscience:

    Radical left-wing icon former California Democratic Rep. Ron Dellums was a hired lobbyist for Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. June 9, 2016, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

    Dellums, who represented liberal San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., is a long-time darling of left-wing political activists. He served 13 terms in Congress as an African-American firebrand and proudly called himself a socialist. He retired in 1996.

    The former congressman is one of several high-profile Democratic partisans who was on Veselnitskaya’s payroll, working to defeat a law that is the hated object of a personal vendetta waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    A national outcry has erupted in the establishment media about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya. But there has been little focus on the Democrats who willingly served for years on her payroll helping to wage a Russian-led lobby campaign against the law. Congress passed the legislation, the Magnitsky Act, in response to the murder of Sergei Magnistky, a Russian lawyer who alleged corruption and human rights violations against numerous Russian officials.

    According to a complaint filed to the Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act division last July, Dellums failed to register as a foreign agent representing a Russian-driven effort led by Veselnitskaya to repeal the Magnitsky Act.

    Add Dellums to a list that includes Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Podesta brothers of high profile Democrats who have documented financial and lobbying ties to Putin’s government.

  • Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump, campaign aides.”
  • Russian journalist on how American journalists cover Russia, especially the Russian hacking story. “The way the American press writes about the topic, it’s like they’ve lost their heads.” Also: “Putin seem to look much smarter than he is, as if he operates from some master plan.” He’s actually a bumbler…
  • You know the Obama Veterans Administration that was only too happy to look the other way while veterans were dying on the waiting list? President Trump’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin has helped implement a number of reforms:

    In Shulkin’s five months on the job, the VA has been a whirlwind of activity:

    • The department announced last week that between President Trump’s inauguration and July 3, it had fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.
    • In April, the department launched a new website that lets veterans compare the wait times at its facilities and view Yelp-style reviews of each facility written by previous patients.
    • Veterans Health Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line — designed for those struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other forms of mental stress — is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds, and only about one percent of calls are being rerouted to a backup call center.” A year ago, an inspector general report noted that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers, some calls were taking more than a half hour to be answered and other callers were being given only an option to leave messages on voicemail.”
    • At the end of June, Shulkin unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic limb — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to a VA facility in New York. Veteran amputees demonstrated the technology, a collaboration among the VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the private sector. (The name alludes to the lifelike robotic hand that Luke Skywalker is fitted with in The Empire Strikes Back.)
    • In May, Shulkin said the department had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized ones that cost the federal government $25 million a year. He said that most of the buildings are not treatment facilities and could profitably be closed or consolidated. Of course, if he actually attempted to close or consolidate some of the buildings, he might face a controversy along the lines of those touched off by military-base-closing announcements in recent decades.

    Shulkin has also gotten some help from Congress during his short time on the job. At a time when Republican legislators have had enormous difficulty passing big pieces of legislation, they’ve made great progress on VA reform.

    One particular law designed to make the VA more accountable is arguably the most consequential legislation President Trump has signed so far. It establishes speedier procedures for firing employees, gives the department the authority to recoup bonuses and pensions from employees convicted of crimes, adds greater protections for whistleblowers who report errors and scandals, and expands employee training.

  • New Senate GOP bill to repeal ObamaCare has tiny flaw in that it doesn’t repeal ObamaCare.
  • The One Sentence That Explains Washington Dysfunction: “I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win.” So no one was ready to do anything policy-wise once he did. “Among those consequences: The expectation that Republicans might actually try to keep the promises they’ve made to voters over the last eight years.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • No matter which party is in charge of Washington, rain or shine, summer or winter, the deficit keeps growing. “Real monthly federal spending topped $400 billion for the first time in June.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • An appeals court vacated the conviction of former New York Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, just the latest in a long line of appeal reversals for former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. How much of Bharara’s once-sterling reputation was real, how much was showboating, and how much was good press from working at MSM-saturated New York City? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “ICE Director: There’s No Population Of Illegal Aliens Which Is Off The Table.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Mexico is reportedly very upset that both the united States and Texas are actually enforcing border control laws.
  • Remember: When you see an anti-Trump or anti-border control march, there’s a good chance it consists mostly of paid Soros shills.
  • Speaking of Soros:

    What we are actually witnessing — in Hungary, in the United States and in many other countries in recent years — is a populist reaction against the elite “progressive” consensus of which Soros is a prominent symbol. There is an international clique of influential people and organizations who share certain ideas about the future direction of political, social and economic policies, and who don’t want to be bothered with debating the merits of these policies. The ordinary people whose lives would be affected by the agenda of the elite aren’t being asked for their approval, and popular opposition to the elite agenda (e.g., the Brexit vote, Trump’s election, Hungary’s anti-“refugee” referendum) is treated by the elite media as evidence of incipient fascism. Never does it seem to have occurred to George Soros, or to anyone else in the international elite, that perhaps their policy ideas are wrong, that they have gone too far in their utopian “social justice” schemes. Unable to admit error, the progressive elite therefore resort to cheap insults and sloppy accusations of “fascism” to stigmatize opposition to the Left’s agenda.

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy makes the case for an independent Kurdistan. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • For ABC, religious liberty organization = hate group.
  • Seattle decides that they want to drive the affluent out of the city. I’m sure many cities in Texas would be happy to welcome them with open arms…
  • And just in case you thought that was going to be the craziest story out of Seattle this week: “Seattle Councilman Objects to Hosing Excrement-Covered Sidewalks Because It’s Racist.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • China’s housing bubble continues to expand. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Kid Rock is running in the 2018 Michigan Senate race. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
  • On the same subject. “Rock is arguably much better positioned than Trump for a successful political run.”
  • “The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked.”
  • Flaccid NFL ratings lead to Viagra and Cialis pulling out as sponsors. Maybe if they stopped focusing on politics, the NFL’s ratings wouldn’t be as soft….
  • Austin attorney “Omar Weaver Rosales, who filed hundreds of lawsuits against local small businesses alleging technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been suspended from practicing law in the Federal Western District for three years.”
  • Maine Democratic state rep threatens to kill President Trump, calls gun owners “pussies.”
  • Connecticut now requires a criminal conviction for civil forfeiture. Good. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “Bad move, Mongo! Moonshine has powerful friends in the slam.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Clint Eastwood, when looking to cast American Paris train heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone for a movie he’s directing, decided to cast Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone.
  • Radiohead gives the finger to anti-Israel BDS movement. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Was Shia LaBeouf always this big an asshole, or did he get worse after Trump and 4Chan broke him? “I got more millionaire lawyers than you know what to do with, you stupid bitch!” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Alyssa Milano is too busy as a member of “the Resistance” to take care of trivia like paying her taxes. Or her share of her employee’s taxes.
  • Woman climbs Mt. Everest to prove that vegans can do anything, dies. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • There’s a Friends of NRA Fundraiser on August 3rd in Georgetown.
  • AMC releases emails from fired Walking Dead producer Frank Darabont in which he states how he’s boiling with rage over subpar efforts by various production team members. It’s not a good look, but if you directed The Shawshank Redemption, I’m inclined to cut you more than the usual amount of slack over your film-making methods…
  • Marvel is actually doing a live Squirrel Girl TV show. Sure, it’s called New Warriors, but we all know what the real attraction is there…
  • A sailor-eye history of the USS Nevada battleship during World War II.
  • Speaking of World War II, here’s a history of the Mulberry artificial harbors that were crucial in unloading supplies right after D-Day.
  • From the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas: Proof that Bill Clinton doesn’t understand the power of metaphors in image form:

  • “Millions Of Policy Proposals Spill Into Sea As Brookings Institution Think Tanker Runs Aground Off Crimea Coast.” (Hat tip: JenDinnj’s Twitter feed.)
  • How did I miss this last week?

  • U.S. Judge to UT Professors Filing Campus Carry Lawsuit: REJECTED

    Monday, July 10th, 2017

    Strangely enough, just as he did when asked for an initial injunction, U.S. Western District Judge Lee Yeakel did not find “but my feelings!” to be a persuasive legal argument against campus carry:

    A U.S. Western District judge has tossed out a lawsuit from three University of Texas professors over the campus carry law.

    In a seven-page ruling signed on Thursday, U.S. Judge Lee Yeakel said attorneys for professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter failed to present a sound argument that they will be physically harmed under the law. He said their concerns arise from a “subjective belief that a person may be more likely to cause harm to a professor or student as a result of the law and policy.”

    Yeakel’s ruling is a win for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

    “The court’s ruling today is the correct outcome,” Paxton said in a statement. “The fact that a small group of professors dislike a law and speculate about a ‘chilling effect’ is hardly a valid basis to set the law aside.”

    The campus carry law went into effect last year, and allows students with concealed handgun licenses to carry them into classrooms and other buildings on campus. Since 1995, it has been legal for handgun license holders to carry them onto the campuses of Texas public universities.

    The professors filed the suit on July 6, 2016 and asked for a preliminary injunction three weeks later that would have temporarily blocked the law from becoming effective. Yeakel denied the motion for an injunction, clearing the way for licensed holders to carry guns on campus to open the fall 2016 semester.

    Given that more people were killed by stabbing (one) than shooting (zero) on UT campus in 2016-2017, evidence suggests that liberal fears of a horrific bloodbath following the legalization of campus carry were wildly overblown.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)