Saturday, March 17, 2018

Don't Blame Shaka for Fenves' Toxic Culture

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2's over.

Last night's loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament was incredibly disappointing.  That they blew a fourteen point lead made it that much worse.  Infuriating.

But here's the thing: The chronic underperformance in the athletic department is just a symptom.  The real problem is the toxic, money-worshipping, culture of the entire institution.  What's happening in the athletic department is a microcosm of the University of Texas as a whole.

Shaka's an easy scapegoat.  But he's being set-up to fail.  We know more than we can publish, but the buck stops with Greg Fenves and the Board of Regents.

A year and a half ago, during last Basketball season, we wrote: "the corrupt institutional mismanagement that has plagued the past decade has finally bled into the athletic department."  Last night was a continuation and acceleration of that trend.  And nothing is going to change as long as the corrupt, money-worshipping, UT Politburo remains in charge.

It's fascinating how arrogance is almost always accompanied by ineptitude.

Bottom Line: To attack symptoms, while leaving the underlying pathology intact, is pointless.  Throwing Shaka under the bus for the sake of a "new coach" dog-and-pony show is a waste of time and (especially) money.  The University of Texas needs a much deeper top-to-bottom housecleaning, and it needs to start in the President's office.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Latest Sexual Assault Allegations illustrate Just How Little Baylor has Learned

"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (kjv)

[Note: One of these days, we need to finish writing our review of the book "Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University amid College Football's Sexual Assault Crisis, but for now just know that the authors of that book are also the authors of the article quoted below and that they've been doing PHENOMENAL investigative work on this story for the past three years.]

We learned a couple weeks ago that there's a brand new (actually 5 months old at this point) investigation related to sexual assault by members of the Baylor University Football program.  The alleged incident occurred on Nov. 12, 2017, well after the new university president's mea culpa tour.  Without pre-determining the outcome of the investigation, what's astonishing is how much the optics of the situation continue to stink.

A note on format: Both block quotes are from Wednesday's ESPN report; we'll post thematically, while interspersing our own thoughts.

Baylor's FAILURE to inform the public:
The three players tied to the sexual assault investigation have been completely separated from the team since the allegations were first made in November, the spokesman said. Although their separation is related to the ongoing sexual assault investigation, the school has not indicated what their alleged role might have been in the reported assault.


It is unknown whether those three players also are among the four alleged suspects named in a police report regarding the alleged incident. According to a Baylor University Police Department incident report obtained by Outside the Lines, two female Baylor students told police that they were sexually assaulted at University Parks Apartments in Waco, Texas, during the early-morning hours of Nov. 12, only hours after Baylor lost to Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The two women reported the incident to Baylor police on Nov. 17, according to the report.
  • Baylor knew about the alleged incident on Nov. 17 yet, despite all of the horrifying things that occurred on their campus between 2011-2015, they failed to inform the public on their own.
  • Quietly suspending players who had been accused of sexual assault for "undisclosed violations of team rules" was a big part of the problem under the previous administration.
  • The public wasn't informed about the latest allegation until a press report FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE FACT.  Even then, it took Baylor ANOTHER MONTH before they discussed it publicly.  So, we're looking at five months between the alleged incident and it's first public discussion.
The Clueless Coach:
[Head Baylor Football Coach Matt] Rhule said he was confident the investigation was being handled properly and that he didn't know much about it.

"The people that do this for a living, they handle the investigation," he said. "... I don't know much about the case, and I think that's really a good thing, because I probably really shouldn't know much about it as the football coach."


"These are the issues everywhere. This isn't a Baylor thing. This is an 'our world' thing. And so I willingly answer those questions," he said. "...These are major issues, and so I don't think any of us should run away from them ...This is what we all need, should be talking about."

A reporter referenced two members of Rhule's staff who were fired near the start of his tenure. One was a coach arrested in connection with a prostitution sting and another was a staff member who reportedly sent inappropriate text messages to a teenager. The reporter asked, "Are you worried at all about the culture of the program?"

"No, not at all," Rhule said without hesitation. "Things happen all the time, everywhere. You can either hide from it and try to hide it from all you guys so it looks like everything is great, and you end up not doing the right thing. Or you can be very transparent about things, knowing that you open yourself up for criticism."

"As you look at the scandals and things that have happened other places, it's always been when people are afraid to handle what's happened," he said, adding that the incidents with his former staff and players do not indicate a cultural problem and that they were quickly and properly addressed.


"People are going to say things, and I get all that, but that doesn't mean there's a bad culture," Rhule said. "There's a bad culture when kids do things and grown-ups hide them. And nobody's hiding anything here. And so that's why I know that we're doing things right."
  • This has to be one of the most astonishingly un-self aware, head in the sand, statements we've ever read in our life.
  • If you are a university with Baylor's history, and another alleged incident occurs, one would think that the head coach would be receiving regular updates on the investigation.
    • While we're on the subject, why wasn't anyone from the Title IX office present at that press conference?!?
  • "And nobody's hiding anything here"... see our comment above about it taking five months between the alleged incident and the first public discussion.
Bottom Line: For an institution that squandered every last bit of benefit of the doubt several years ago, Baylor's got some explaining to do.  And, right now, they ain't doing it.  Considering Baylor's recent track record, "trust us" doesn't cut it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wayne Christian's GLORIOUS response to Schwarzenegger's anti-Oil and Gas Lawsuit

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28

By now, we assume you've heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger's dumb lawsuit against the energy industry; well, Wayne Christian's response is pretty epic....
A Hypocritical “Hero”
By Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian

Arnold Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly best known for his legendary heroics on the silver screen. Covered in mud, he survives the Predator – killing it by exploiting its one weakness. As the Terminator, he protects John Connor from a homicidal shape-shifting machine to save humanity. An unhappy construction worker, he can’t remember who he is, but finally recalls and with his last breath saves thousands of lives by releasing air into the Martian atmosphere.

Like the character he played in Total Recall, Mr. Schwarzenegger must be having a tough time remembering who he is – a former Republican Governor.

In Austin for the South by Southwest festival, he revealed he has hired a team of California lawyers to sue oil and gas companies for “first degree murder” by “knowingly killing people all over the world.” Instead of acting like a Republican, Mr. Schwarzenegger must be trying to play the hero again. The only problem is this isn’t the movies, this is real life, and there is nothing to “save” us from.

Like many of us, Mr. Schwarzenegger had a long commute to work. After he was elected Governor of California, he decided not to move to the Governor’s Mansion at the state capitol in Sacramento, but instead traveled more than 100 miles for seven years from his mansion in Brentwood, Calif.. The only difference: he took a private jet, which cost around $30,000 a roundtrip and impacts the environment about the same amount as a small car does in three years. And when he’s not taking a private jet to work, he’s driving around in a five-ton,12-mile to the gallon Mercedes or going to lunch in a military-grade Hummer.

But now, according to the Governator it’s “absolutely irresponsible” for oil and gas companies to sell their products because they “know [their] product is killing people.” Wait a minute, here. So, it’s okay for oil and gas companies to sell their products to Mr. Schwarzenegger when he needs to fill up his private jet or Hummer, but it’s not okay for them to sell their products to regular folks so they can drive their vehicles to work? This kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy is repulsive and offensive. Mr. Schwarzenegger is not a hero, he’s just another elitist Hollywood hypocrite telling you and me how to best live our lives.

The real heroes are the oil and gas workers – the landman, the roughneck, the petroleum engineer – who wake up every day and go to work to support their families and our way of life. Together, these workers produce around 10 million barrels of oil and 96 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day that fuel our cars, light our homes, and make plastics and many other items we use every day. The industry doesn’t just provide the raw materials to make the things we need – it creates jobs and grows our economy. In 2015, the oil and gas industry supported more than 10 million jobs in the United States with an average salary over $100,000 and contributes more than $1 trillion to our economy every year.

Despite what Mr. Schwarzenegger may think, the story of energy before oil and gas was simple – most work was done by human or animal muscle. This caused the vast majority of the population to live short lives of hard labor in extreme poverty. Before oil and gas were used to power the industrial revolution, the global average life expectancy was only 25 years old with 30 percent of children dying before age 15. During the 1800s, 80 to 90 percent of the population of the United States worked in agriculture and spent 74 percent of family income on food, clothing and shelter. Today, the average person lives more than three times longer than the average person in 1800. This is partly because climate-related deaths, such as starvation or hypothermia, have decreased 98 percent in the United States since the use of oil and gas became widespread at the beginning of the 20th Century.

It’s sad – but Mr. Schwarzenegger has gone from superstar hero to Hollywood hypocrite. On the one hand he routinely uses gas-guzzling jets and cars while on the other he sues oil and gas companies. Given this stunning hypocrisy, I have a question. If oil and gas companies are murderers for selling their ­­­­product, does that make Mr. Schwarzenegger an accessory for being such a good customer?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#atxcouncil: Guy who attempted to BAN BBQ "BBQ Shames" Another City....

"The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
Proverbs 11:9


Obviously, Brooklyn attempting to compete with Texas over BBQ was dumb.  That would be like Texas attempting to compete with Brooklyn over Pizza.  Just not happening.

But, allow us to suggest that Mayor Adler might not be the best messenger to deliver that message.

Austin City Council Agenda, April 2, 2015:

You can learn more about that particularly "glorious" incident in the Austin City Council's recent history here.

Bottom Line: We don't begrudge any Texas politician who wants to have fun at Brooklyn's expense over this BBQ kerfuffle...except the four members of the Austin City Council who co-sponsored the 'ban BBQ' resolution less than three years ago.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#TROXROX: Due to DOGGED Effort of ONE Council Member, #atxcouncil CUTS water rate (for first time in 30 years)!!!

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Fantastic News:


From the Article:
Austin leaders reached a deal with their largest water customers Thursday evening that will reduce water costs across rate classes — for residents and businesses alike.

Additionally, the utility will keep rates flat for the next two years, its staff said. It won’t be able to raise rates again without the input of an independent hearing examiner, after the City Council agreed to an amendment from Council Member Ellen Troxclair.

The average homeowner will see a $2.40 drop in the monthly water bill, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said. That will be effective May 1.

“This recommendation brings all of our customer classes to cost-of-service,” Meszaros said. “We haven’t always had that, so this is a positive step.”

City staffers said no one can remember a time Austin Water has lowered water rates in at least the last 30 years.


The council approved the rate reductions 9-0, with Council Members Delia Garza and Greg Casar away from the dais. Troxclair’s amendment to require a hearing examiner for any future rate increases passed 7-2, with Council Members Kathie Tovo and Sabino “Pio” Renteria opposed.


The city said it was able to find the savings through a management plan that uses developer connection fees to pay down the utility’s debt. Those fees have increased for builders connecting new projects to city pipes, and the revenue has grown from $8 million in 2013 to a projected $30 million this year.
Excellent.  In a city with a municipal utility, your water bill is essentially a hidden tax.  Thus, last week's actions are a tax cut!

[Note: What we really need is choice and competition for water instead of a government monopoly.  But that's a discussion to have on the campaign trail (aka. you'd need 5 additional votes on the dias).  Given the status quo, this is good.]

Also, as a resident of district 3, we have to add: Seriously Pio?!?

But kudos to Ellen Troxclair.  She's been working Austin Water for years and it's finally paying off.  Her diligence is amazing.

[Note II: It's also funny how, whenever Troxclair outmaneuvers the rest of the council, they always vote unanimously when they cave to passively-aggressively attempt to deny her a victory.]

Bottom Line: This was a long time in coming.  And well deserved.  #TROXROX.

How DECENTRALIZATION and PROPERTY RIGHTS (not Cronyism and Regulation) will fulfill Texas' Water needs

"Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 17:6

"Water policy" is one of the quieter, ongoing, acts of larceny in which the Texas Legislature engages.  During our first session, in 2013, when the Legislature created an absurd slush fund to allegedly aid "water infrastructure development."  Last year, TPPF released a guide on how to permanently fix the problems, which we finally had an opportunity to read this afternoon.

Water policy in Texas is guided by a 1997 law known as SB 1 (75(R)).  The law attempted to use "planning" to reach a "comprehensive solution" to Texas' water needs.  There is a lot that could be said about SB 1, but suffice to say that it was devised by Karl Rove (Dubya was Governor) working alongside a Democrat Lt. Gov (Bob Bullock) and a Democrat Speaker (Pete Laney).

20 years later, TPPF explains the result of the SB 1 process:
[T]he face that the overwhelming majority of water management strategies in the [State Water Plan] remain to be executed points to problems with its centralized natureOnly 14 percent of the over 3,000 water supply strategies in the 2012 [state water plan] have reported any progress over the last five years.  They remain simply strategies on paper.

The 2017 [State Water Plan] continues to rely on a significant number of new large surface reservoirs without acknowledging the costly, lengthy, and potentially insumountable federal and state permitting procedures to build these reservoirs. (6)

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
[A] variety of provisions in SB 1, which were intended to facilitate voluntary water transfers in a competitive market, have been interpreted and applied in a way that obstructs water markets. (8) 
SB 1,  followed by a number of other lousy pieces of legislation, have muddled property rights related to water.  This makes it impossible to profitably develop water resources (of particular note are so-called "groundwater conservation districts").  Essentially, they're taking a problem caused by too much government intervention, and they're trying to solve it with even more government intervention.

The report lists a number of other regulatory impediments to a functional water market, highlights include:
  • "Surface water in Texas, as in most western states, is a public good...." (10)
    • aka. If everybody owns it, nobody does.
    • To the degree to which you can determine rights to use and development...the process is very complicated and very expensive.
  • "[R]egulatory impediments in the water market hinder both buyers and sellers from gaining a better understanding and expectation of prices for water transfers.  The lack of pricing information and other regulatory impediments may stop agricultural users from shifting to lower water-use crops or from investing in more efficient irrigation practices." (10)
    • aka. This is why we grow cotton in the middle of the desert.
  • "[T]he reliability of existing water is weakened by inconsistent responses from regulatory agents."  (10)
TPPF then catalogs the difference in how groundwater and surface water are regulated.  Neither one is good.  The result is unclear property rights, higher costs, and supply shortages.

As far as policy recommendations, highlights include:
  • Force "groundwater conservation districts" to reconognize private property rights.
    • Note: Or you could, you know, ABOLISH "groundwater conservation districts."
  • Clarify the law so that water rights more closely resemble oil and gas rights.
  • Amend the law to explicitly allow for the type of property rights in surface water that we (at least technically) have in ground water.
  • Streamline Permitting
Bottom Line: There's no problem related to water policy in Texas that can't be solved via. clearer property rights and smaller government.  But that would alleviate the artificial shortages and reduce opportunities for the politically directed allocation of capital. And what fun would that be for the average member of the Texas legislature?!?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Congressional Races continue offering significant upgrade opportunities

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

While last weeks results for state legislative races were a mixed bag, the congressional races went very well.

Some thoughts on the six open seat Republican district:

  • CD 2 - Neither run-off candidate stands out in a good way, but Kevin Roberts was such a lousy state rep that it suggests one should support the other guy by default.
  • CD 3 - Van Taylor wins without a runoff.
  • CD 5 - Bunni Pounds is rapidly consolidating conservative support. We've never met the woman, but numerous sources we trust have nothing but good things to say about her.  We just wish she had a different name.
  • CD 6 - Ron Wright qualifies for runoff while finishing 24 points in front of closest rival.
  • CD 21 - Matt McCall and Chip Roy are both solid conservatives.  We've known them both for many years and the differences are due to personality and style, but the philosophical underpinnings are identical.  Either one would be a significant upgrade over the current 32 year incumbent.
  • CD 27 - Michael Cloud scores a surprisingly strong second place finish while the widely expected front runner underperforms for a front runner.
Bottom Line: Obviously, you need to win the run-offs, but we should be very satisfied with the primary results in Congressional races.