Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ed Emmett: Inside Out or Outside In?

Ed Emmett has consistently contended that he is an outsider to county politics. This is not true. Ed Emmett has been involved in the back room deals of the county for over 20 years. 20 years ago, he was a state legislator, he was also head of the Grand Parkway Association and the North Side Association. This was a problem, you see, because he was busy pushing legislation that would have benefited the Grand Parkway Association and the North Side Association at the same time. The Grand Parkway would have passed through Cinco Ranch, which was formerly owned by the Abercrombie Family before it was partially sold to the Mischer Family Real Estate operations. Walt Mischer Jr., Jack Hooper which represented the Abercrombie family, State Rep. Ed Emmett, Rolan Adamson of the George Family Foundation, and Charles Pense, another real estate developer, were appointed to run the Grand Parkway Association, while Al E. Knipe, an engineer with Turner Collie & Braden Inc., a large Houston engineering firm, was in charge of planning.

In fact the Attorney General at the time ruled that he had to step down from the GP Association because his chairmanship in the North Houston Association was in conflict with his membership of the GPA because some of the same developers were giving money to the North Houston Association. He was not the only politician that was in a position to benefit from the GP, seems the head of the State Highway Commission, a gentleman by the name of Bob Lanier, happened to own 1730 acres near Tomball, that just happened to have frontage on the proposed route. More recently Former State Senator from SD7, Jon Lindsay also has a large parcel of land that currently has an agricultural property tax exemption for "tree farming" in Klein that is not far away from the current proposed F2 segment. And of course we cannot forget the Abercrombie and Mischer family ownership of the 5,416-acre Cinco Ranch development, and Roland Adamson is the general manager of the George Foundation, which owned about 20,000 acres about one-half mile from the parkway route in Fort Bend County.. Emmett stepped down from the GP Association, but he remained a close associate of the group and remained the head of the North Houston Association, which still got developer monies. After his Legislative term was complete he ran twice for Texas Railroad Commission, which at the time also regulated trucking, but failed both times. He then became a lobbyist for small trucking companies trying to break open the trucking market in Texas. During one of his attempts to win a Railroad Commission position he made a rather ironic quote given his prior connection with the GPA. He said:
"The incumbent ignored the realities of the 1980s and is still trying to regulate the transportation and energy industries like a good-old-boy spoils system. Those days have got to stop."

In 1989, Bush the First nominated him to the Interstate Commerce Commission where he got to ingratiate himself even further to the road building and trucking industries.

Since then, he worked for a firm that lobbied for transportation issues.

So next time you hear Ed Emmett claim that he is an "Outsider", just remember all those land developers that he was trying to enrich with his road building. He isn't as far "outside" as he would have you believe.

In Memorium

A Petition is being circulated calling for the small unnamed island in Galveston Bay in which the body of Riley Ann Sawyers, AKA "Baby Grace" washed ashore, to be named Riley's Island.

It is the least we can do to remember this beautiful child.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I could not have said it better myself

Tam wins the award for most appropriate song lyrics ever:

Mine eyes have seen the horror of the voting of the horde,
They have looted the fromagerie where the guv'ment cheese is stored.
If the war's not won by the commercial break they grow so quickly bored
Their vote counts as much as yours.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Zoning, Housing Prices, and Sub-prime Lending.

Zoning goes by a lot of different names in an attempt to hide that fact that they are in fact zoning. I've heard it called "Smart Growth", "Urban Planning", "Neighborhood Protection", and I'm sure there are other names it hides behind too, but they all at their core are zoning. The most dishonest one I've heard is "Urban Renewal" because it has the exact opposite effect: It creates ghost towns where once thriving cities once stood. It is really disturbing the number of problems government creates when it hamhandedly tries to "fix" other "problems". Zoning is one such hamhanded attempt to fix a "problem", and in doing so it creates many many more.

Real Estate is fundamentally different from most other markets. There is a finite amount of real estate available. They aren't making any more of it. So when you make portions of the available real estate unavailable through land use restrictions, what would you expect to happen to the prices of the real estate that is left? It goes up of course. That means fewer buyers can afford to buy. It also means that the property taxes on the property go through the roof because it is based on the sales price of similar properties. That will further diminish the number of people who can afford to own property. This is not just for home owners, it goes for businesses too. Businesses must do what they can to reduce their fixed costs and rent is one of the biggest fixed costs they have to deal with. They must increase prices to pay those costs, and if a business out in the un-zoned suburbs can beat their price because their fixed costs are lower guess what happens to the business. It goes OUT of business.

Another effect of Zoning is the increase in the costs of housing, and this is where Sub-Prime lending comes in. It is no coincidence that cities with zoning have the highest rates of sub-prime lending foreclosures. When people who can't truly afford a house are led to believe they can, of course they are going to fail in large numbers to keep the loan out of default. This is true everywhere, but in places with zoning they get hit with a one-two punch. Not only is the cost of housing out of this world, but so are the prices of essential goods and services as well for the same reason. People who would have no problem owning a home in Houston can't even afford the rent on one in San Francisco. So of course you are going to have a large number of people in these cities filing for bankruptcy protection and losing their homes.

All of this economic devastation can be tied back to one simple thing: Zoning.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Wages of Sin pay pretty damned good!

Seems yet another shoe has fallen in the Rosenthal scandal. Seems Rosenthal gave his former lover, and current "Executive Assistant", a merit raise that went into effect Saturday. Now mind you, she is ALREADY paid more than most people in a similar position elsewhere. She also gets a County owned and fueled/maintained car to drive around too. The normal procedure for merit raises in the DA's office is for them to be recommended by a committee of top supervisors. But that was not the case here, Rosenthal himself signed off on this raise. How much of a raise you might ask? $11,000 a year, bringing her salary to $89K a year (plus the car). That works out to be a 14% raise.

Chuck step down. Step down right now. You have officially jumped the shark.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Decisions... Decisions....

Fred Thompson has withdrawn from the race. So has Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. So now what is a conservative to do? The other candidates are so very flawed. Huckabee has never met a budget he didn't like, and he also has not been very enthusiastic about doing anything useful about illegal immigration. McCain is an open borders moron. Romney has more flip-flops than Payless Shoes. Giulliani is as liberal as Joe Lieberman. And of course there is Ron Paul. God what an idiot. How is that man able to walk and chew gum at the same time with that case of hydrocephaly he must have?

I'm thinking that Huckabee might be the best of what is left, but that really is not saying a whole lot. He may be a spendthrift, but he is at least conservative on most things. We DO have to keep in mind that there are at least two supreme court positions coming open soon. Therefore we need to make sure that the guy doing the picking for the replacements is a conservative and will select conservative judges to fill those positions. We also have to try to preserve what little is left of this country while we try to get a handle on the illegal immigration problem. I don't really trust Huckabee, but I think that the American people can "Keep up the Skeer" on him long enough to keep him moving in the right direction.

If anyone has a good argument for any of the others (except Ron Paul, you nutcases might as well save your breath.) I'm open to persuasion (kinda).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Evolution Giveth, Evolution Taketh Away..

This is a story of fickle evolution, cancer, fertility, and Huntington's disease. This story is real, and no names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Huntington's disease is a genetic disorder caused by an overly long repeating CAG stutter. The length of the stutter determines if you get the disease (35 repeats seems to be the threshold) and the severity of the resulting disease. This allele appears to be connected with the production of a protein called p53. p53 is a very important protein, it modulates when cells divide and die (apoptosis), when new blood vessels form, and it also appears to modulate the immune response. This link to p53 is very important because it is the key to why the mutation has not died out in the population. People with the Huntington's allele have a higher level of p53 in their blood. p53 increases the immune response, and it also reduces the incidence of cancer, probably by boosting the immune response to incipient cancers.

People with the Huntington's allele are about 125% more fertile than those who do not have the gene. It is unclear why but one hypothesis is that people with Huntington's are healthier during their childbearing years, and therefore have healthier pregnancies. p53 might have an effect on the reproductive system that has not been detected yet. And since the debilitating effects of Huntington's generally don't appear until the prime childbearing years (median diagnosis is at age 39, although it ranges from age 2 to age 82), the mutation can and does survive from generation to generation. Additionally, people with Huntington's develop depression and cognitive deficits in the early stages of their disease, so it is possible that a certain percentage of Huntington's patients may not be able to make good decisions about reproduction as well, leading to more pregnancies.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Texas's Ted Kennedy

"Justice delayed is justice denied!"

Massachusetts has Ted Kennedy, Texas has Boris Miles. On January 3, 2007, Boris Miles groped, and forcibly kissed a hotel employee. This assault was caught on videotape by the hotel's security system. The tape, along with a number of stills and the woman's report were given to HPD. The DA's office apparently refused to press charges. Here it is a year later and Miles has gone and done it again.

How many more women will this man be allowed to assault before he is punished?

Drugs, Money, and the Democrats

For some time, I have held the firm conviction that foreign powers were using the political fund raising process to influence our Government. I now have proof of this influence. Mauricio Celis was recently arrested for impersonating a lawyer in Corpus Christi. As a part of the investigation, his other dealings became suspect. He owns a company with a Mexican national who is a pilot and former Mexican Policeman who is a known drug cartel operative. He has made numerous trips to Mexico after making sizable cash withdrawals from the banks he uses. But what is most disturbing about this is his campaign donations. Donations to Nick Lampson, Barbara Radnofsky, Mikail Watts, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party of Texas and the Democratic Senatorial Committee.

The question now becomes, how many other people are acting as straw man donors for the Mexican drug cartels?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Politician Heal Thyself!

Boston Mass. is a cesspool of liberal thought (I know, "Liberal Thought" is a contradiction in terms...)and it is a common belief among liberals that our nation's health care system is "broken" and in need of socialization. But in Boston, Mayor Menino has attacked CVS Pharmacy for opening low cost walk-in emergent care clinics in their stores. So in other words, low price medical care is a great idea as long as it is a government subsidized entity providing it right?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Be Prepared!

He was!

In Sri Lanka, the President of the Maldives was saved when a 15 year old boy scout grabbed the knife from the hand of a would be assassin.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adrian Garcia, Your time is up!

Councilman Garcia recently was bestowed that much sought after designation of Mayor Pro Tem. Prior to that, CM Garcia announced that he was running for Sheriff Tommy Thomas's job. There is one small problem here. The state constitution has a stipulation in it that says that if the remaining term of your office is greater than 1 year, then if you announce or file to run for another elected office, you automatically resign from your current one. Mr. Garcia's CM position runs until 2009. He announced on December 31st, 2007, Which means that if the term runs past December 31, 2008, he must give up his position on City Council.

Mr Garcia is no longer a Council member by my math.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Open letter the the Harris County GOP leadership in regards to Chuck Rosenthal

Gentlemen (and Lady),

It has come to my attention that Judge Lykos is being discussed as an alternative to Rosenthal as HCGOP candidate for HCDA, as is Mr. Leitner and three other candidates that I do not know the names of. While I am not at all impressed with Mr Leitner, Judge Lykos would be an excellent choice. I would strongly encourage the executive committee to encourage both/all to file for the position. This will give the party Rank and File a chance to chose for ourselves who the best to serve as our next District Attorney. At a bare minimum, DA Rosenthal has misused county property and engaged in nepotism in hiring his former (current? That still remains to be seen.) lover as his executive assistant and has given her perks to which the office she holds is not entitled to. Of all people, our own District Attorney cannot hold himself as being above the law. He must be made an example of or the county and the HCGOP's reputation will be in the sewer. Given the Democratic opponent's linkage to the crime lab scandal as well as the former Brown administration, he cannot be allowed to run without a viable GOP opponent. Rosenthal is no longer viable. We MUST have another qualified candidate. If some or all of them file to run, then we have three months to sort out who the party should get behind, that is not a LOT of time but it is certainly better than doing nothing. Today as you all are well aware is the filing deadline. We cannot let today pass without another candidate being on the ballot.

DO NOT DISCOURAGE ANYONE from filing. It is within every man's ability to do nothing, to do SOMETHING requires courage. I beg you all to have some courage.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What they DON'T tell you about Vista Downgrading

...Is the phone number to call to get an activation code.

The steps to Downgrade Vista Business, Vista Enterprise, or Vista Ultimate are as follows:

Find yourself an original Install disk for whichever version of Windows you plan on downgrading to (I will assume it will be XP Pro). You must have the product key for that disk as well. It DOES NOT matter if it has been previously installed or not.

Install that version of Windows. Type in the product key for that product, NOT Vista.

When you are prompted to type in the activation code to activate the software (required to activate XP)call THIS number, NOT the one that the installation program gives you:

1-800-652-7514 (I am assuming this number is only for the US. It may or may not be usable from other countries.)

Explain to the human that answers that you need to exercise your right to downgrade to a prior version of windows. They will ask you to read off the long series of numbers that the activation program gave you. They will give you an activation code to type in, then they will ask you for the Vista product key to attach to that call log. Type the number they give you in and you are set.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Vista Home edition does not have the changes in it's EULA that allow for downgrading. The only versions that allow for downgrading are Vista Business, Vista Enterprise, and Vista Ultimate. Neither Vista Home or Vista Premium do.