Friday, February 23, 2007


Obama visits Austin and begs for support: "I don't want to have to raise money in Hollywood all the time," he said. Must be thinking of his media mogul supporter David Geffen, who stirred a political scuffle when he spoke about Hillary, saying: "Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling." The truth hurts.

Obamination takes on Obama's black separatist 'church'.

Barack at the rally said New Orleans "still looks like a war has been fought. You see buildings and neighborhoods and entire stretches that are completely abandoned."

Let's see. Billions spent and wasted with nothing to show for it. Still a danger zone racked by violence. Government can't and won't do it right. Clearly, there's only one answer - TIME TO PULL THE U.S. OUT OF NEW ORLEANS!

Aussies Welcome Cheney

"Cheney a good mate to us"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who should be our next President?

The 2008 horserace is starting earlier than ever, as the media spins up support for the top Democrats (while ignoring conservatives).

What kind of person should we support for President? We ought to vote for candidates based on their character, their competence, and their vision and solutions. The candidate should be of good character and capable of leading and managing the vast behemoth that is the Federal executive branch, with a conservative vision that embraces the three legs of the Republican coalition:
1. A pro-free-market pro-freedom, small-Government, fiscal conservative who is for lower taxes, limited spending and less Government regulation.
2. A strong defender of American sovereignty (including our borders) and our national security who will win the war on terror (and understands it as a necessary war against violent radical Islamic extremism); someone who will stymie the anti-Americans both at home and abroad.
3. A pro-life, pro-family defender of traditional values, e.g., for school choice, for traditional definition of marriage, and opposed to the social re-engineering of the cultural left.

While we are at it, we need a candidate who can engineer solutions to: energy dependency, global warming, Federal budget deficit, US trade deficit, failures in American education, illegal immigration, Medicare and Social Security going bust, cultural degeneration and breakup of families, and global terrorism.

The candidate needs to espouse not just the right ideas, but be an articulate and inspiring leader. This leader should both win the election and win Americans - and the world - to pro-freedom conservative values and beliefs.

Against that tall order, in the words of U2's Bono - "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." We know it won't be any Democrat, all of whom are promoting different brands of socialism-lite, putting old, wrong, ideas in new wine skins. If you find the right candidate, let me know.

Politically Incorrect News

Armed store owner foils robbery.

More Americans killed by illegal aliens than Iraq war, study says.

Texas Insider Feb 16 quote of the day, from Jonas Chartock, President & CEO, Charter School Policy Institute:

"Texas charter schools receive between $1,600 and $2,100 less funding per pupil than do traditional public schools, while serving significantly more at-risk and disadvantaged students. Until this disparity is addressed, charters may never reach their full potential.”

Spoils of victory alert: Democrat Governor of Massachusetts caught spending thousands on luxury items for his office and wife.

Mexico sends troops to U.S. border. It's okay, they are fighting the drug cartels.

Another brilliant Thomas Sowell op-ed: Barack Obama, control freak

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Washington's Birthday

Tom Pauken notes:

In the “politically correct” world of modern America, we no longer celebrate the birthday of the Father of our country, George Washington, on February 22nd each year. Instead we celebrate some amorphous holiday known as “President’s Day.”

He asks: "Shouldn't we call it George Washington's birthday again?"

I say yes. President's Day has diluted down the honor of our greatest President, George Washington, to include mediocrities from Buchanan to Carter. George Washington's vital importance in our history is not properly expressed in schools, nor is the amorphous day given any respect.

I asked my son this Monday, Presidents Day, what they were taught about our Presidents on this special day. "Oh, nothing," was his reply. I am disappointed our schools are disinterested in our greatest President.

George Washington's birthday is February 22nd. Enjoy it - and remember what he told us.

Letter to the Editor by Bob Ward

1. Bob Ward Letter to Editor as submitted:

Aiding and abetting
The City Council is considering opening a second day-labor site on the south side. The purpose is to make it more convenient for illegal aliens seeking illegal employment.
There are neighborhoods in our city where drug dealers hang out, selling illegal drugs. Neighborhood residents object to this. There is a fear of violence, they don't want their kids exposed to this and property values are adversely affected.
The city should open up a conveniently located center where drug dealers can gather away from other citizens, and their customers would know where to go to make their connections. This would get the drug dealers out of the neighborhoods.

"With a little creative thinking the council can probably find other ways to make life more convenient for those who break our laws.

2. Bob Ward Letter to Editor as published Monday, January 29, 2007

Aiding and abetting :
The City Council is considering opening a second day-labor site on the south side. The purpose is to make it more convenient for illegal immigrants seeking illegal employment.
There are neighborhoods in our city where drug dealers hang out, selling illegal drugs. Neighborhood residents object to this. There is a fear of violence, they don't want their kids exposed to this and property values are adversely affected.
The city should open up a conveniently located center where drug dealers can gather away from other citizens, and their customers would know where to go to make their connections. This would get the drug dealers out of the neighborhoods.

Last paragraph of "as submitted" cut out in "as published" and "alien" changed to "immigrant"

The TAKS Test

My son Jack is in 4th grade (in public school) and took the TAKS test this week. Last week, they ran through exercise tests to get students prepped for the test. This is in addition to weekly quizzes this year on the math problem types they will encounter. To me, it's good news: At least they are testing on reading comprehension, writing skills and basic math. Complaints that teachers "teach to the test" are in my mind misplaced. The prep quizzes are the kind of assignments we would want 4th graders to be doing anyway; they are given more rigorous writing assignments in preparation for TAKS than they otherwise would get; they are learning through the process of preparation. Schools need to have more of these 'basic' education elements, and less non-essential activities.

In contrast, tomorrow our 6th grader will 'miss' Language Arts due to a science fair. What will she miss? Watching a movie! Keep TAKS, we need it; what we don't need is the inessential fluff that displaces real learning.

If we are going to have TAKS however, we need to do one obvious and essential thing: Keep it in English! Did you know TEA has created and gives out Spanish TAKS tests?

About one in six of the state's 4.5 million students is classified as "limited English proficient." The Spanish TAKS is offered to some of these students in the third through sixth grades.

Spanish TAKS in my mind defeats the purpose of TAKS and undermines its essential goal. Students who are not English proficient fall behind in education, so testing them in Spanish does nobody good and will inherently be a different standard/test. Bilingual education is a failure that disserves students and this is merely an enabler of that bad idea. Far better to have one-year immersion in English, end long-term bilingual programs, and keep TAKS in English only.

When Chris Bell was running for Governor, he complained about TAKS as too rigid. He had it backwards; our most important problem in education is lack of rigor and accountability. We need good, solid, rigorous standards. TAKS is like the multi-vitamin for the education system. It doesn't ensure a complete educational diet, but it ensures that essentials are getting provided to a given sufficient level. Based on what I see of my son's tests, TAKS is doing its job. We need to keep it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quick Takes

Take the Obama Test.

The REAL audacity of hope: GOP can take the House in 2008

What's at stake: Grassroots Freedom.

Job #1 for more jobs and better economy: Make Bush tax cuts permanent.

Politics & The Internet...Are you Ready?

Original Post:

Once upon a time, well...last campaign season to be exact, I had the opportunity to visit a government class lecturing on the various theories behind technology & politics, and their impact on political campaigns. On this day, a local candidate, who was running for office and shall remain nameless, came to speak on this topic.

Long story short...the candidate summarized with the following thoughts by the end of the speech, "The internet is not useful in campaigns, and I believe it to be a waste of time, energy, and money". Immediately, I knew this candidate would matter how much money they spent. Sure enough, election day rolled around, and not only did they financially out raise and out spend their opponent 5-1, they ended up losing in a very big way.

Is this political newbie saying that their loss was entirely due to the ineffective use of internet and technology? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe it has more to do with the old school mentality behind politics and campaigning. There's this overriding attitude that alot of current politico's have, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Old school political campaigning has worked in the past, why shouldn't it work today."

Well, I'm here to tell ya...Politics is about to change in a very big way. So you better be ready, cause it's already beginning to happen...

Let me share with you a few might be amazed as to what's already going on.

Unity 2008

Unity08 is creating the first-ever online convention, and it will happen in June of 2008. Unity08 will nominate a Unity Ticket of with one Republican and one Democrat for President and Vice-President, or an Independent with a Unity Team drawn from both parties. This ticket will be on the ballot in all 50 states.

Imagine what this kind of technology can and will do to the political process. We've already seen the explosion of Web 2.0 and social networking software. Just look at the popular uses of things like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and ect. Will Unity08 actually achieve its goals? Who knows...I will tell you, I'm very interested in watching the process...

Check it out, and learn about how technology is being used to their advantage.

Google Boss Warns Politicians About Internet Power

This is an article I saved about Google Inc., written in October of 2006. One of the things you gotta love about Google is their ability to really think outside the cubicle. They spend an enormous amount of time brainstorming ways in which they can tear down those blue felt walls we've all become accustomed to. Google is probably the company I admire most.

LONDON (Reuters) - Imagine being able to check instantly whether or not statements made by politicians were correct. That is the sort of service Google Inc. boss Eric Schmidt believes the Internet will offer within five years.

Politicians have yet to appreciate the impact of the online world, which will also affect the outcome of elections, Schmidt said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

He predicted that "truth predictor" software would, within five years, "hold politicians to account." People would be able to use programmes to check seemingly factual statements against historical data to see to see if they were correct.

"One of my messages to them (politicians) is to think about having every one of your voters online all the time, then inputting 'is this true or false.' We (at Google) are not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability," he told the newspaper.

The chairman and chief executive of the world's most popular Internet search engine was speaking during a visit to Britain this week, where he met Prime Minister Tony Blair and spoke at the Conservative Party's annual conference.

"Many of the politicians don't actually understand the phenomenon of the Internet very well," Schmidt told the Financial Times. "It's partly because of their age ... often what they learn about the Internet they learn from their staffs and their children."

The advent of television taught political leaders the art of the sound bite. The Internet will also force them to adapt. "The Internet has largely filled a role of funding for politicians ... but it has not yet affected elections. It clearly will," Schmidt said.

Writing in the Sun tabloid, the Google boss said the online world has empowered ordinary people with the ability to challenge governments, the media and business.

"It has broken down the barriers that exist between people and information, effectively democratising access to human knowledge," Schmidt wrote.

"This has made us much more powerful as individuals."

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, one of the Democrat Presidential Contenders, has embraced new technology for his campaign, and is currently utilizing Web technology to build a base for continued momentum. As my friend James always says, "It's all about the big MO". If you visit his site, MyBrarackObama.Com you can actually sign up for his campaign version of MySpace and Facebook.

Will this help Obama defeat Hillary, the establishment's candidate, during the heated primary race? Who knows...but I bet his use of alternative campaign methods gives her a run for her money.

Just as a side note: We saw Howard Dean use some of these same tactics when running for president, and subsequently raising over $20 million dollars online. Interestingly enough, at this point in time online social networking was in its infancy. This strategy, along with Obama's ability to be less eccentric than Mr. Dean, will make this an exciting primary season.

In The End...

It'll be interesting to see which Republican Candidate latches on to technology. If I had to place a bet on money would be on the McCain Campaign...Their primary consultant is incredibly savvy with technology, and I've actually had the great pleasure of meeting and learning from this man. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

I'll have more thoughts on this subject towards the end of 2007, as campaign season heats up again...Primary Elections are starting up earlier than normal, and I'm guessing that the winners and losers will be mostly decided by Feb of 08.

-Tom Serres
(A Texas Entrepreneur)

Pushing back on Perry's HPV vaccine plan

Today House committee on HPV took testimony on a bill that would overturn Gov. Rick Perry's executive order mandating that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, H.B. 1098 (R-Bonnen). Free Market Foundation supports this bill for these reasons:

“The injection of virus-like particles into girls as young as 9-years-old for a sexually transmitted disease is a serious decision, best left to parents and their family doctor,” said Free Market Foundation Director of Legislative Affairs Jonathan Saenz. “Subverting the legislative process and mandating by unilateral order is not good for Texas and not good for our young girls,” said Saenz.

OverturnRP65 blog says: "The bill, HB 1098, now has 90 co-sponsors. This is almost the 100 votes needed to make the measure veto-proof."

The travesty of Perry's executive order is that the clinical basis for mandated use is not established. As the
American College of Pediatricians says:

Because the average time between initial HPV infection and death from cervical cancer is 20 years, definitive conclusions about HPV vaccine efficacy will take years to establish. ... Until further research is completed, HPV vaccine recipients should be fully informed as to the current limits of knowledge regarding the vaccine’s potency and duration of protection.

Because of these and other concerns, the American College of Pediatricians states they are "opposed to any legislation which would require HPV vaccination for school attendance."

Governor Perry has succeeded in creating a bipartisan consensus - opposing his unwise and unprecedented HPV vaccine executive order!

The Democrats' defeatist irresolution

In Iraq, they are saying: "Tell the American people we need the U.S. Army here." But in Congress, the answer comes "No."

By signalling opposition to the renewed "surge" effort to win in Iraq, the Democrat-controlled House and their defeatist irresolution undercut our military from the commander-in-chief to the troops in the field. President Bush was the intended target, but the military men and women in Iraq, as well as the people of Iraq, are collateral damage. Absolutely no good came of Congress' act, which has no real effect and merely signals our weakening will to fight. However, much mischief will result as the Democrats in Congress undercut war efforts. Democrats already have withheld $4 billion in funds to re-equip forces in the latest budget, and Rep Murtha is finding other ways to hamstring our military via military appropriations.

Congressional meddling indicates an unwillingness to comprehend Constitutional responsibilities and boundaries of their branch of Government, but worse a perverse eagerness to put partisan considerations above the patriotic unity required for victory in foreign intervention. Whatever one's view on the President's strategy in Iraq, once he and his generals choose a course of action, the military should be given the tools and support to pursue it to victory; the only other option is a unified and purposeful decision to leave. But today, most Americans want to win in Iraq and are hopeful we will succeed.

We have seen this defeatist playbook before - the Congressional Democrats of the early 1970s used it to great effect to undermine policy in Vietnam, ultimately costing us South Vietnam to Communist North Vietnam. James Phillips says:

If the Democratic-controlled Congress does succeed in choking off the troop reinforcements and resources needed to implement the Bush Administration’s Iraq strategy, then it must assume responsibility for the resulting disaster.

The only thing that can defeat us is defeatism itself. As leaders choose defeatism over perseverence, the war in Iraq is being lost not in the streets of Baghdad but in the halls of Congress.

P.S. Other takes:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Democrat leaders stifle patriotic dissent

Democrat leaders break their word, stifle dissent and undermine our war effort - a hat-trick of malfeasance, all in one day! From GOPUSA:

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will begin debate on the Democrats' anti-troop resolution and that's all. Pelosi's deputy has flip-flopped and told the GOP they can't bring up their own resolution that supports our troops and the President.

The anti-war crowd like to say that "dissent is patriotic". Au contraire. Patriotic dissent against the defeatist mood is apparently what these Democrats most dislike. says Tell Congress not to surrender.

For The Last Time,This Isn't Soviet Russia

One of the staples of the economy of Communist Russia (or any Communist nation, for that matter) was price fixing, a process by which a group of bureaucrats would decide that, this week, bread was worth 10 ruble, milk was worth 15, and meat was worth 50. Since they set the prices, they had to set the wages as well, because while the Soviets were no strangers to making their people starve, they couldn't be obvious about it and price necessary commodities higher than what the average prole needed to eek by. So, this group decided, being a doctor got you 100 rubles a week, and being a farmer got you 60. That a planned economy can work is a fiction no longer held even by the Chinese, whose government is inseparably attached to the political framework of Stalinist Communism.

You might then wonder why it is that there are factions of our government that wish to impose a smaller, but no less insidious, form of price and wage fixing upon the American market. It may be because the electorate is, unfortunately, not all that bright and only sees the promise of something for free while completely overlooking the consequences of those unending free lunches. Or it could be white guilt. Or it could be because too many somber college feminists get to go to the polls full of feelings of righteous anger that their Poems of Post-colonial Wymyn professor told them to feel, and have to get back at daddy for having all that money unfairly. I don't know, I don't care. Understanding the why would involve understanding the psyche of a public that has, in almost every important area of life, shown itself incapable of making a rational decision about anything.

The why aside, the central planning that has manifested itself in the forms of the minimum wage and "universal health care" will be no less harmful to our economy than the failed experiment of Communism was to the Soviets, and the threat to our freedoms is perhaps greater.

The minimum wage hits the low end, establishing a basement value for a commodity. The commodity in this case is labor, but that doesn't make a difference. Everything is expressible in terms of labor: how many man-hours did it take to make a car/house/hammer/cat carrier is no different a question than to ask how much steel it took to make those things. According to Congressional central planners and their 3rd Communist International supporters, there is no act of labor that is worth less than $7.25 an hour. 60 minutes of the least skilled, least valuable person in this country's time is worth at least $7.25.

If you're a Leftist, right now you're thinking, "But $7.25 isn't that much, and people need to earn a living wage", or some other nonsense, and if you're not a simpering college student, you're thinking "Man, that's going to jack up the economy". Either way, set that aside. I don't care about the pragmatic arguments for or against the minimum wage.

We're a nation built on laws which codify our rights and freedoms, as well as the powers our government has, and our evaluation of any policy should begin there. The minimum wage represents an egregious overstepping by the federal government. That it's happened before is no reason to let it go by without a whisper of complaint now. That's the road to pure apathy, because if there's a single freedom that you possess that the government hasn't brutalized, I haven't heard of it.

Who gave the government the power to decide for private businessmen what the cost of labor should be? Is the government comprised of magic fairies with special dust that give it super duper awesome insight into the inner workings of our economy? Were they reading a big book labeled "THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY", and noticed that there was some extra elasticity when it came to the cost of low end labor? No, they simply asserted that no business could pay less than an arbitrary amount for an hour of JoJo the Circus Boy swinging around a mop.

It is private businesses, and only private businesses, who have the right to determine the cost of labor. After all, they're the ones that pay it, not the government (of course, the government pays people with our money anyway). They're the ones who have the responsibility to their employees, customers, and families to turn a profit, not the State. And they've done pretty well on their own without Uncle Sam sticking his nose in it. The amount you're paid now is probably pretty close to what you're worth. But, in a desire to show that they mean business in the war between the peasants and the evil, top-hat wearing capitalists, the government is taking yet a little more of our freedom away from us, the freedom to run our businesses as our needs require.

So that's Nancy and Harry and Fat, Drunk Ted and all the rest hitting us from the bottom, instituting wage fixing. But they're not happy wreaking havoc on just one part of the economy, no. To jam us all from the top, the brilliant Socialists in Washington have decided that, you know what, it'd just be keen if the government (by which, of course, is meant the people of the United States) would just pay for everyone's health insurance. Again, the why is unimportant. Maybe some people just get their jollies from wasting billions of other people's dollars.

What matters is that "universal health care" is just another word for "price fixing". Under any "universal", tax-payer funded health care system, the government will necessarily set the price for medical care. How can it do that? Well, if everyone pays for their medical care through the government, that means that, essentially, the government has the buying power of 300 million individuals rolled into one giant customer. When you've only got one customer, you can't dicker on price too much if you want to work.

This, of course, means that the government will be setting arbitrary values on the labor of doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners, the use of hospital facilities, the development of new medical technology, and a host of other things it simply cannot rationally succeed at. That decision will no longer be left to the people who, you know, practice medicine, or develop new drugs, or own hospitals, the people whom those things directly affect. Your rights as a consumer of medical goods and services will be limited by the desire of the state to impose its will upon you, as though your own concern for your health can be trumped by the abstract will of the progressive wave in Washington.

And yet, through all this, we stand there and do nothing. Nobody says a word when Sen. Obama, the first black candidate for President that the Left doesn't secretly cringe over, declares that there will be universal health care by 2012. Nobody says a word when the unworking, but often-protesting, mob of the Left storms state capitols and demands a "living wage". Every time the state engages in this kind of central planning, they're ripping your freedom to make your own value decisions away from you, and making you foot the bill. It's like paying someone to stun-gun you every time you reach for a piece of chocolate cake. Yeah, you might drop the pounds eventually, but only because you've been turned into cattle.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Eanes ISD Spending

Eanes ISD parent Susan Bushart started asking questions about where Eanes money was going, and found financial hijinks in Eanes ISD fundraising, refusals to open records, and possible law violations for no-bid contracts. Thousands of dollars were 'raised' but little got to students; they are cutting nurses, but can spend money on lawyers fighting to not disclose basic information that should be public. Read the whole sordid tale and ask youself: Do you know how your school district is spending its money?

Friday, February 9, 2007

School Choice Supporters Rally in Austin

The pro-voucher School Choice Rally Wednesday attracted an estiamted 3500 to 5000 people, and ABC's John Stossel was on hand to speak to the crowd. Peyton Walcott has pictures.

School choice is common sense accountability in education. It is a travesty that school choice isn't given a chance in Texas for even the poorest families in the worst schools. However, common sense leaves the room once the vested interests of education monopolists takes over - they think education should be about feeding a public education bureaucracy (with as little accountability as possible) rather than about creating the best education for the child. The Educrats oppose even allowing children in failing schools (which is 15% of schools) to participate in school choice. This denies a lifeline to children suffering from educational malpractice. To be anti-school-choice is to be anti-school-children.

"10 Principles of School Choice" (PDF) is a great booklet that lays out the common sense idea of school choice and how it should work:

1. Allow parents to choose
2. Funding should follow the child
3. Schools should compete
4. Empower school leaders
5. Empower teachers
6. Give parents adequate funding with incentives
7. Allow schools to succeed or fail
8. Preserve the autonomy of private schools
9. Teach democratic values
10. All parents should be free to choose

Education funding costs $100,000 per child over the 13 years it take to go from K to 12. Who's watching out for that investment? Parental involvement is a major predictor of child progress in education. With school choice, parents can correct bad educational outcomes by 'voting with their feet' and taking kids out of failing schools (or even 'good' schools that are failing to educate their particular kids). What could possibly be wrong with parental involvement, more accountability and more choice? Why, if school vouchers are such a horrible idea, does every anti-voucher big Government liberal support the same 'voucher' concept at the College level via the Pell Grant? Or the same concept as applied to food - Food Stamps? Or the same concept applied to housing (Section 8)? Oh, and did I mention vouchers would probably cut costs for taxpayers over time as well, as efficiency in schooling improves.

More school choice and education reform resources:

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bush calls for tax relief and a balanced budget

President Bush is proposing a five-year plan that will balance the federal budget without raising taxes, including making tax cuts permanent and cutting earmarks:

Over half a million jobs (513,000) have been added in the past three months alone. Our economy has now added jobs for 41 straight months, paychecks are growing, and the unemployment rate remains low at 4.6 percent. The President asks Congress to help keep our economy growing by making his tax relief permanent. ...

The Budget Restrains Spending Elsewhere By Focusing Resources On More Effective Programs, Reducing Wasteful Spending, And Addressing The Long-Term Challenge Of The Unsustainable Growth In Spending For Entitlement Programs. ... In 2005, We Had More Than 13,000 Earmarks. To help eliminate wasteful or unnecessary earmarks, the President will work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to: Continue reforming the budget process; Expose every earmark to the light of day and a vote in Congress; Reduce the number and cost of earmarks by at least half by the end of this session.

This old-time fiscal conservative religion is wonderful stuff, but it certainly highlights the missed opportunity of Republican control of the Federal Government in 2005 and 2006. Why didn't Bush and the Republican Congress make tax cuts permanent when they had a chance?
A few squishy moderates in the Senate stalled the most important element of the Bush domestic agenda, and the leaders rolled over for it.

The reality is that almost every Republican voted for the Bush tax cuts but the Democrats voted 3 to 1 against tax cuts. President Bush is asking Congress to make permanent tax cuts on everyone who pays income taxes; double the child tax credit; reduce the marriage penalty; cut taxes on small businesses; cut taxes on dividends and capital gains; and phase out the death tax. Democrats won't do it. The first action the Democrats in the House did this month was to pass a "paygo" rule that made tax cuts harder to enact, while embracing higher energy taxes in their "100 hours" plan. The Liberal chairmen of House committees, like Rep. Charlie Rangel, are openly advocating higher taxes and think nothing of the enormous economic dislocation that will occur when they let the tax cuts expire. A Republican Congress in 2009 might have a different view, but will that happen? If it doesn't many of these provisions will expire in 2009, 2010 or 2011.

Bush also asks for the line-item veto. The President needs to use the sledgehammer of the full-bore veto on spending bills to make the point for the Congress. Another missed opportunity - earmarks proliferated and Bush signed the bills instead of holding the line on it. He can complain about wasteful spending, but until he actually vetoes it a few times, Congress will send it to his desk.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

More Hot Air

Junk science blows the cover off the latest highly-publicized IPCC report - "What kind of "science" distributes a summary and then withholds the underlying report for a further three months editing to make it concur with the already distributed summary?"

George Will shares Inconvenient Kyoto truths with a robust skewering of Kyoto and global warming hysteria.

Media Bias


Smoking-blowing on Texas Power Plants

There is no issue that is more mis-stated and demagogued than energy. Sometimes it is due to the economic illiteracy of advocates of a particular utopian claim. Sometimes it is simply a hidden agenda, such as this case of anti-coal ads funded by gas power plant builders:

Natural gas companies, calling themselves the Texas Clean Sky Coalition, have been fighting coal plant proposals with full-page advertisements in the state's major daily newspapers. ... A Web site, www.cleanskycoalition .com, includes these rhetorical questions: "Would you bathe your child in coal? Sprinkle arsenic, mercury and lead on your husband's cereal? Treat your friends to a big dose of radiation?" ...

The coal plant proposals jeopardize some natural gas plans, said Greg Platt, an executive at Cobisa, a small Houston company that develops natural gas plants.

"From our perspective, it's difficult to justify a gas plant if all of these coal plants get built," Platt said. "It's difficult for (financiers) to take the leap to open spigots on the money if they see these coal plants hanging out there."

With natural gas prices high, the operator of the state's electrical grid will run cheaper fuels such as nuclear and coal power before gas, Platt said.

The Clean Sky Coalition Web site includes newspaper stories about coal-fired power plants, informs readers about a rally against the coal plants on Sunday at the Capitol and points readers in the direction of Environmental Defense and the Sierra Club.
Neither group said it receives money from the Clean Sky Coalition or even knew what it is.

"Whether the money is coming from environmentalists, businessmen or competitors, we're glad they're fighting," said Tom "Smitty" Smith of the watchdog group Public Citizen. "Without help from everyone in the state, we won't be able to stop the coal plants."

The ad campaign is a travesty. It lies about the real impact of the coal technology to be used (no arsenic flakes for breakfast) and it hides the real agenda of these opposing companies. Coal is cheaper than gas, and the builders of more expensive alternatives are afraid to see successful new coal plants. The reality is that
these new plants by TXU will reduce coal power plant emissions as a whole:

For TXU, the key emissions cap will be 20 percent lower than 2005 levels, despite adding needed generating capacity to meet consumer needs. TXU says its new plants will add no new key emissions since they will be more than offset by the company’s reductions. TXU’s coal fleet emission rates per MW/hr would fall nearly 70 percent.

Quite a contrast to the rhetoric.

Skaggs and Zimmerman were right to ask for more facts and less hyperventilating on coal plant impact on air quality, and to suggest that TCEQ might not be falling on the job:

It appears to us the much criticized Texas Commission on Environmental Quality may be simply doing its job — evaluating the total, integrated implications of the additional energy Central Texas needs to maintain and improve its economic competitiveness and provide citizens an improving quality of life.

If we want to have power generation technology that is cost-effective, safe, environmentally-friendy, and emissions-free (including CO2), there is one answer: Nuclear power.
TXU is planning nuclear power plants, and rightly so. Nuclear power in the U.S. has had a very safe track record, and each year it's operational performance improves and shows more consistency on safety and cost. The answer sure isn't solar - solar and other non-nuclear renewables are too expensive to be practical, with costs running 2 times to 30 times coal or nuclear. And it's not gas, which is more expensive than coal or nuclear and not emissions-free.

Nuclear power is the elephant in the room for the anti-fossil fuel environmentalists; their irrationally anti-nuclear policies lock us into coal and other fossil fuels for power generation. A sensible counterpoint is found here. One can be both pro-environment and pro-energy - by being pro-nuclear power. It's time to recognize nuclear power as a renewable power source that can drastically reduce our CO2 emissions.

Unless and until we decide to build more nuclear power plants in Texas, the proposed coal plants are the next best answer for meeting Texas' power needs.

Monday, February 5, 2007

1,000 riders a day for $90 million

That's what the Cap Metro light-rail commuter line from Leander to downtown Austin will deliver, according to Ben Wear in today' Statesman. More riders would mean more expense of more rail cars and more tied up traffic on the road crossings for the system. This $90,000 per rider cost was supposed to be 'cheap' light-rail ... I'd hate to think about what a real light rail system would cost!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Texas Margins Tax and Small Business

Texas' new margins tax replaced the old franchise tax with a lower rate that hits a broader base of businesses.
I am looking into a real estate investment and trying to figure out if I will get hit. In looking at it I realized that the margins tax hits business at $300,000 gross revenue or above. That means that practically every small business with a decent revenue stream has the headache of another tax.

Given the surplus, there is an obvious thing that sticks out as a great idea for a tax cut: Why not raise that exemption so Texas small businesses don't get hit with the complexity of a tax? An exemption of $3 million or more could save many small businesses from having to be concerned about this new tax, making compliance less onerous, without giving up too much in tax revenue. I don't know what the impact to revenue would be, but even if it reduced tax reveue by a billion or two, Texas has a surplus to afford it and it would greatly help Texas small businesses.