Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#35 in a series)

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Lawrence beat me to it, but only because I have to wait until my lunch hour to blog.

According to “a person with knowledge of the case”, state representative Dawnna Dukes has been indicted by a grand jury.

Dukes, an Austin Democrat, faces two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity and 13 felony counts of tampering with public records, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

She could get 28 years in prison, but we all know there’s no way in heck she’s going to get that much of a sentence if she is convicted. (I know, these are state, not federal, charges, but Ken’s principle still applies.)

You may remember Rep. Dukes was playing “Let’s Make a Deal” with DA Lehmburg late last year. Ms. Dukes decided she wasn’t going to resign after all because “the people” wanted her to stay (in spite of her poor attendance record).

We don’t need no education…

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Hoping to reduce violent confrontations during traffic stops and other encounters with police, an influential Texas senator filed a bill Wednesday to require all public high school freshmen to take a course in how to interact with law officers.

Show your children the classic Chris Rock video, “How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By the Police”. Problem solved in five minutes. No need for a course. As a public service to those of you who have children, I’ll even embed it here for you.

I’m really about 80% serious when I say that: there’s actually a lot of really sound advice in that video.

And I wouldn’t mind a class that taught “how to interact with law officers”, but I think that should just be part of a larger class. I’d also teach how the DA’s office works and how crimes are prosecuted, how civil court works, and I’d bring in defense attorneys (maybe even someone from the ACLU) to go over what your rights as a suspect are. I almost want to say that they used to call this “Civics”.

But I’d probably teach this as part of a larger year-long class for high school students which I’ve been calling “S–t You Need To Know”. I’d also want to cover things like basic car maintenance (how to check fluid levels and change a flat), basic gun safety, strategies for avoiding being a crime victim, statistical fallacies and how to recognize them, bad science and how to recognize it…there’s a whole bunch of things that I think graduating seniors need to know, but aren’t getting taught unless they have exceptional parents.

Feel free to leave your proposed curriculum item in the comments.

Noted.

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I voted early today.

There was almost no line. This was at around 12:30 PM at the Randall’s in Lakeway.

Just a data point.

Obit watch: August 6, 2016.

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

Joaquin Jackson passed away June 15 of this year. I did not learn of his death until I flipped through this month’s Texas Monthly at the grocery store today, and I’m not sure how I missed that. Brief tribute from TM. Statesman.

For those folks unfamiliar with Mr. Jackson, he served for 27 years as a Texas Ranger, from 1966 to 1993. His time as a Ranger spanned what I’d call the end of the old Texas and the beginning of the new Texas; the evolution from horses and cattle to technology. He retired in 1993, ostensibly because of his discomfort at changes taking place in the Rangers organization. (However, he states in one of his books that his reasons were actually more complex and personal than that.)

In 1994, he appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly as part of an article on the changes taking place in the Rangers. The cover made him an icon. He went on to do some private investigation work, and appeared in several movies.

Jackson was a member of the governing board of the National Rifle Association, once getting into hot water over remarks he made about assault weapons.
“I personally believe a weapon should never have over, as far as a civilian, a five-round capacity,” he told then-Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith in 2005. “If you’re a hunter, if you’re going to go hunting with a weapon, you shouldn’t need over but one round. So five rounds would be plenty. … Personally, I think assault weapons basically … need to be in the hands of the military and in the hands of the police.”
He later backpedaled from the remarks, claiming that he was talking only about fully automatic weapons and not about semiautomatic rifles.

I remember that controversy, and I’m convinced Jackson knew exactly what he was saying at the time and was covering his butt later. (If you doubt he knew the difference between fully automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons, read Chapter 6 of One Ranger and then try to tell me otherwise.)

He also wrote two books. One Ranger is a damn fine book. I try to snap up firsts of this every time I find them, as I am convinced this will be seen as an important Texas book in the coming years. The sequel, One Ranger Returns, had a different co-author and is not quite as good, in my humble opinion. (There are some interesting things in it; mostly background from his family.)

In spite of my disagreement with him, I would have enjoyed meeting him and shaking his hand. I missed the chance, sadly: he appeared a few times as the Texas Book Festival, but I was never able to get down there on those weekends.

His passing leaves a hole that can’t be filled.

Dallas.

Friday, July 8th, 2016

I went to bed pretty early last night (after a frustrating attempt to deal with Wells Fargo) and didn’t find out what was going on until 5 AM this morning. (Great and good friend of the blog RoadRich texted and emailed us, but we were sound asleep when things started breaking.)

I really haven’t even had a chance to look at the news yet, and don’t have any profound thoughts. But I wanted to get something up. Consider this an open thread for discussion and updates.

Dallas Morning News coverage.

Please keep in mind:

In a semi-related vein, this is an interesting thread from Reason’s “Hit and Run”. Part of my answer to this is: the author is asking this question less than 24 hours after the incident took place. All the facts were not in, and probably still are not in even now. Why should the NRA (or any other organization) be making public statements until we have all the facts?

Edited to add: Been tied up. Apologies. The reports I’m seeing now pretty much all state that the dead gunman was killed by a breaching charge attached to a police robot. The temptation is great to make Asimov jokes, but the situation is too serious, so I’ll just link to this Statesman article which quotes the “executive director of a nationally recognized police active-shooter training facility in San Marcos” as stating it was “unprecedented but perfectly legal.”

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#29 in a series)

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Okay, maybe not flames, since this is a civil suit. But I run an equal opportunity blog here, and there are also criminal charges involved.

The SEC is suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

According to the SEC, Paxton recruited investors for Servergy Inc. in 2011 without disclosing that the company was paying him to drum up support and without trying to confirm Servergy’s claims that it had developed a revolutionary new server that was, in reality, based on outdated technology.

The SEC claims that Paxton was paid $100,000 worth of stock, and, when asked about it by the SEC, claimed the stock was a “gift” from William Mapp, who was Servergy’s chairman at the time. Mapp is also accused of fraud, and a third man (“Caleb White, a Tyler businessman”) is also accused of failing to disclose commissions he received. According to the HouChron, “Servergy and White already have settled their cases by paying a combined $260,000 in penalties.”

More from the Chron:

The complaint alleges that Paxton told the SEC that he intended to pay for the shares and even offered to pay $100,000 to Mapp during a meeting at a Dairy Queen in McKinney, Texas.
According to Paxton, Mapp then said, “I can’t take your money. God doesn’t want me to take your money.” So, Paxton took the shares as a gift.

I think the important question here is: what did AG Paxton order at the Dairy Queen? Is he a Blizzard man? Maybe some sort of sundae, or possibly even a banana split? A Peanut Buster Parfait? Or is he just a humble dipped-cone sort of guy? The people demand to know!

(Damn it. I went to the DQ web site to check spellings. Now I want a S’Mores Blizzard, and the nearest DQ is miles away.)

Data point.

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Something that might be of interest to Texas People of the Gun:

My license to carry was up for renewal this year. I filled in the renewal application online on March 3rd.

My new license was in the post office box when I checked yesterday. So Texas DPS processed it in, at most, a little over two weeks. Not bad, not bad at all.

(To be fair: I did not have to take a renewal class this cycle, so I wasn’t required to send in proof of that. Also, while Texas DPS did warn me that this was a possibility, it turned out I did not have to get new fingerprints or a new photo. And I suppose it is distantly possible that these results were skewed by the fact that I had to go through recent background checks with the Austin Police Department for the Citizen’s Police Academy classes and my ride-along with APD.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#22 in a series)

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

For those who were wondering when I was going to put up Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, here you go. Not even paywalled, as of this writing.

(I probably should have put this up yesterday, but the workday was frantically busy, and I came home and collapsed after dinner. Sorry.)

According to the indictments, Paxton failed to tell stock buyers — including state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, and Florida businessman Joel Hochberg, who each purchased more than $100,000 in Servergy stock and were listed as complainants on the fraud charges — that he had been compensated with 100,000 shares of Servergy. Paxton also said he was an investor in Servergy when he had not invested his own money in the company, the charges indicated.

Of course, these are just charges, he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence, yadda yadda yadda.

The time has come…

Friday, May 29th, 2015

…to purchase a nice holster.

Hmmmmm. You can get a Dragon Leatherworks Quantum for a Browning Hi-Power…

Administrative and other notes: November 5, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Happy Guy Fawkes Day. While you’re out and about, please remember poor Guido, the last man to enter the Houses of Parliament with honorable intentions.

It seems kind of fitting that that the holiday falls today. Beyond that, I don’t have much to say about the elections for reasons of time and inclination. Battleswarm is a good place to go if you’re looking for that.

I will be updating the contact pages on this site, but I’m going to wait until after the runoffs are over, everyone is sworn in, and they actually have pages to link to. If this does get past me for some reason, please yell at me until it gets done.

I’m going to avoid my usual “what China needs” snark here, because this is a little scary: Brittney Griner attacked in China by a man with a knife.

Griner sustained a small cut when she was attacked by a man while boarding a bus after practice Monday in Shenyang. The man, who followed the players onto the bus, also stabbed one of Griner’s teammates. She was wearing two jackets and wasn’t injured because the knife didn’t go through.

How did Peter Siebold (the other Virgin Galactic pilot) survive a bailout from 50,000 feet without a pressure suit? Bonus: quotes from Bob Hoover. The Bill Weaver story is also touched on briefly: a fuller account can be found here.

Things may be slow from Thursday until Monday. We will see.

Tax-fattened hyena watch.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that he plans to resign from Congress this month to take a job with a Philadelphia-based law firm, a move he said is best for his family.

“a move he said is best for his family”. Is your Spidey-sense tingling yet?

A report released in 2012 detailed how in May 2011 Andrews initially used personal funds to pay roughly $16,500 for four business-class airplane tickets for himself, his wife and two daughters to attend a wedding in Scotland. Andrews later had the money refunded and paid for the tickets with funds from his leadership PAC and has generally denied any wrongdoing. The Office of Congressional Ethics report, which was released by the House Ethics Committee, said that Andrews “refused to provide requested documents” to investigators related to his travels and provided credit card statements only “after making significant redactions.”

Andrews also allegedly used “a graduation party for his daughter to raise campaign cash.” Both of these things are violations of Federal law, in addition to House ethics rules.

By way of Grits for Breakfast, here’s a mildly interesting story: Aaron Rosenberg is suing his former employer and claims to be cooperating in “an ongoing federal investigation” of same.

So? Mr. Rosenberg’s former employer is Redflex Traffic Systems, one of the companies behind red light cameras.

Aaron Rosenberg, who was the company’s top national salesman, said in a civil defamation claim against Redflex that he was made a “scapegoat” to cover up a long-standing practice of “providing government officials with lavish gifts and bribes” after the Tribune began asking questions about the Chicago contract.
Redflex fired Rosenberg and sued him for damages in Arizona court in February, largely blaming him for the company’s wrongdoing in Chicago. In a counterclaim filed in October, Rosenberg disclosed that he provided information to local and federal investigators as well as to the outside attorney who conducted a damaging private investigation of the company.

And more:

Rosenberg said that during his tenure Redflex “bestowed gifts and bribes on company officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to the following states: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.”

Texas, eh? Would you like to guess some of the cities in Texas that have Redflex contracts? You don’t have to: Grits lists a few of them at his site. And yes, Austin is one of them.

Random notes: January 22, 2014.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

He is the walrus, goo goo a joub.

Is Gary Kasparov trying to buy the presidency of the World Chess Federation?

Two months earlier, Kasparov and Leong negotiated a deal in which Leong would help Kasparov’s presidential run in exchange for $500,000, according to a draft contract reviewed by The New York Times. Kasparov also agreed, after his election, to open a new federation office in Singapore, to be run by Leong, for which he would be paid an undisclosed amount.

“Leong” is Ignatius Leong, who lives in Singapore and is the current general secretary of the federation. He serves under the current president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also running for re-election to the federation presidency. Kasparov’s spokespeople say that draft contract has been superseded. But if Kasparov is trying to buy the office, would that be a bad thing? In the last election

…Ilyumzhinov, who has been president of the federation since 1995, defeated Karpov, 95 to 55. Much of Ilyumzhinov’s support came from Asia and Africa, and many votes were cast by proxies.

(“Karpov” is Anatoly Karpov. You know, the former world champion and the Karpov who played Kasparov.)

And this is interesting:

Ilyumzhinov was, by any measure, a strange choice. He was a businessman who was born in Kalmykia, an impoverished Russian republic on the Caspian Sea, and amassed a fortune after the fall of the Soviet Union, though exactly how and how much are something of a mystery. He was largely unknown within the chess world, though he had been elected president of Kalmykia in 1993, at age 31. He stepped down from that presidency in 2010.

So he’s an ex-politician who went into chess?

Ilyumzhinov is well known for his eccentricities. He has said that he believes the game was invented by extraterrestrials, and he claims to have been abducted by aliens in yellow spacesuits on the night of Sept. 17, 1997. He built Chess City, a huge glass dome surrounded by a housing development, in Kalmykia’s obscure and inaccessible capital, Elista, and had the federation hold championship tournaments there.

Ilyumzhinov was also tight buddies with the late unlamented Muammar Qaddafi.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! Part deux.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas acknowledged Tuesday that a taxpayer-funded project to install a security system in a converted garage at his home involved improvements “over and above” that job, but said he reimbursed the county for the upgrades.
The Times had disclosed that county-paid crews worked at the supervisor’s Leimert Park home for a week and replaced the garage’s interior walls, installed electrical wiring and equipment, and put in appliances, including a wall-mounted air conditioner and heater and a television.

How the Statesman got scooped on the Wendy Davis story. (No paywall.)