Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017: Keep your expectations low. Without hope there is no disappointment.

Remember the beginning of 2016?

So fresh-faced and hopeful we all were.  Maybe, just maybe this would be the year that we got it all right, that we stopped electing the political equivalent of mashed potatoes to office and put a leader in place.

Instead, we went and elected Donald J. Trump to the highest elected office in the land.  The Bronzed Ego, an ape in a suit, arguably the Republican answer to Bill Clinton, minus the political savvy.

Oh, I know, you like him and he won.  In part however you have to say that he won because the Democrats decided to run the most unlikable candidate in the history of ever.  Hillary Clinton couldn't beat political unknown (at the time) Barack Obama and his hope and change rhetoric, and she didn't stand a chance against a man who's literally too stupid to insult.

Wealthy?  Yes, off his father's money. But if you believe the tales, and I do, he could have been even wealthier if he'd just invested it all in a Dow Index Fund and taken the return. This is a man who has filed for bankruptcy more times than he's been married.  He couldn't hack it in the casino business for chirssakes and those things even made Sheldon Adelson wealthy beyond the dreams of Midas.

Trump is an entertainer, and he entertained his way to the Office of the Presidency because he understands the people who are voting for him.  It's also pretty clear that the Democrats, despite their Social Justice Warrior, social-media, blockquoting rants, do not.

Contrary to what you read in Vox, poor voters are not voting against their economic interests by voting Republican. In fact, they're voting more against themselves when they vote Democrat because the party of the Donkey is admitting that they think poor people are too gormless to ever advance in life.

"We're the government and we're here to help" becomes a threat the more you actually deal with government employees. For the most part, they're the people who weren't quite sharp enough to find gainful employment in the private sector, so they took a nice public sector job where they're unlikely to ever be terminated, unless they bring a religious symbol to work, or make a Facebook post not supporting a special accommodation for transgenders when it comes to bathroom access.

America's elected officials are the epitome of the old saying "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king".  If you can fog a mirror you can lead the bureaucracy, you can even control them. Where the entire ideal of "rule by the elite few" plank of progressive politics falls down is that the true 'elite few' aren't all that interested in controlling the lives of others.

But these people are still in the bureaucracy, and Kafka's invention is designed to not be dismantled all that easily. It is designed to endure, to move along on some perverse auto-pilot like a doomed ship making a sun dive with the American people strapped-in, all but powerless to avert the impact.

"But the vote!" you might say, "We have the power of the vote!"

Do you?  Does the poor, single mother of three working four jobs to make ends meet really have the time to investigate each of the candidates on the ballot and make an intelligent choice? Does the father of a "traditional" family, working 5 days a week (and sometimes weekends) really have the time to pour over campaign literature and websites, to analyze policy positions so that he can walk into the ballot box and try not to leave a hanging chad where the most qualified candidate would be?

How about the new voters, the 18 year-olds, happily trundling up to their first voting booths. Do we expect them to have the knowledge needed, to know how to navigate the choppy waters of campaign promises, of hugging babies and kissing women?  Given the sorry State of the United States Education System should be expect a High School Senior or a college Freshman to understand macro-economic theory? Hell, Paul Krugman won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in a very limited area of micro-economic theory and even HE doesn't really "get" the American economy.

So, we've created parties.  The Democrats and Republicans being the two that currently matter. Sure there's the ever-promised "Libertarian Wave" that gets washed away under a mass of g-string wearing, gyrating flesh at the National convention where the most un-Libertarian ticket in the history of their party was placed on the ballot. And then there are the really fringe groups. The Green Party, who nominated Dr, Jill Stein seemingly because having the honorarium in front of her name brought a sense of class to the joint.  Unfortunately, for the Greens, she had to eventually say stuff, and weigh in on policy.  This, of course, is where they all went wrong. We haven't even mentioned the Socialists, Communists and the "other" wacko parties.  Hell, even Vermin Supreme seemed like a viable option this time around.  (I was torn between Chtulu and the Sweet Meteor O' Death to be honest).

Where this all falls down, of course, is that the primary goal of the two major political parties has stopped being "good governance" long ago. It's 100% about power now. About grabbing it, keeping it, and creating possibly the greatest incumbent protection system since Mussolini went West. The Democratic Party exists solely to find and elect Democrats who are willing to prostrate themselves in front of Democratic donors and make pledges of fealty toward their policy.  Don't get too smug Republicans, you're exactly the same. Both parties succeed because people are either too busy, too lazy, too stupid, or too desperate to be involved with "something" to call them out on it.

In America we now have three broad groups of people.  1. The so-called 'average' American.  We work, we play, we pay taxes and we're too busy trying to keep our heads above water to be outraged about what's going on. A lot of us vote straight-ticket because the "other side" is just horrible. 2. The "activists" who are really just sad, pathetic people who are a) desperate to be acknowledged and b) desperate for a win.  These are the people that blog for parties, who stretch any truth to the breaking point in order to support their party's beliefs and who are the one group with whom you never want to find yourself sharing a table with at a dinner party. and 3. The Elite, who are not only elected officials but the check-writers and lobbyists, and courtesans and hangers-on who support them. You can includ politicians in this group, and certain members of the private sector, around 99% of the media, both mainstream and the so-called "alternative" one, and members of the bureaucracy.

And these people DO pay attention, and they understand better than the other two groups exactly what's going on in the world and how the narrative needs to be set. They have money, time and capitol cities in every state (and D.C.) where' they're allowed to cavort in relative solitude without having to deal with group 1, and only occasionally with group 2.

Which is why, despite the election of the Bronzed Ego and the virtual Republican dominance over most of the levers of government, not much is going to change.  The people in group 3 know no party, they know show-business, and they're better at it than most of us.

The more things "change".

Friday, December 30, 2016

The (Official) YDOP 2017 Prediction Post:

Or, things that absolutely, positively, 100% are not going to happen next year.

A few days ago we took a trip down memory lane reliving a 2016 that was widely agreed-upon as one of the worst American years in recent history.  It was a year that gave us President-Elect Donald Trump, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a new, expansive tax on Las Vegas hotels designed solely to enrich Sheldon Adelson and a 1-13 49ers team that just needs to be put down. in all things, 2017 offers us a new hope for a brighter future as baby new year births from the loins of old man 2016 with all of the promise and hope that these things typically signify.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let's look ahead shall we?

The United States.

The biggest story is, of course, Donald J. Trump. Congratulations America, you finally did it, you elected an ape in a suit to be President instead of one of the many, qualified conservatives that stood against him in the primary.  Of course, the Democrats put-up possibly the worst political candidate of the modern age to stand against him so.....

Contrary to the whinging of many, I don't predict an 'end to the Republic' in 2017. As a matter of fact, I think things will move along pretty much in the same shitty manner they are now.  The Democrats, out of any semblance of functional power and lacking ways to pay off their various constituencies, will be loud, shrill, stupid and aghast at just about everything Trump does.  They will be so shocked it will appear that a Tesla coil has taken full time residence in the Congressional chambers. The NeverTrump crowd, or what's left of them, will sheepishly move back onto their porches with psuedo-witty aphorisms such as "I'm old enough to remember" etc. etc.

The problem, of course, is that many of them are just that. Old.

Business, being what business is, will continue to saunter along without accomplishing much.  Companies, still unsure about the long-term future, will continue to hoard cash and progress will be achingly slow. The past gave us the moon-landing and the internal-combustion engine, it also gave us the computer, refrigeration, radio, television and the internet.  The future is going to give us faster internet speeds and 2-year commitment packages with phones that might, or might not, catch fire when we log onto TalkAbout, the new "big" social media platform that will enrich it's designers despite the lack of a clear path to profitability.  Facebook will become both public enemy number one and the biggest social media platform out there, while Twitter continues to fall in on itself, buried under an avalanche of anonymous trolls and social justice warriors hoping to get noticed.

But, and this is the important part, the Federal bureaucracy will still function, and it will still continue to choke-off meaningful economic growth under the name of 'consumer protection' and 'safety'. The Alphabet-soup of organizations that de-facto run this country will continue to place out-sized influence into the hands of lower-level clerks who, in many cases, barely generate enough brain-power to keep their legs functioning properly.  Due to federal employment laws that would make Franz Kafka stand mouth agape with wonder the government is unable, and unwilling, to get rid of these modern day miniature Torquemadas who run rough-shod across corporate profitability each and every day.


"Space City" as it was once called, is looking down the gun barrel of years and years of bad electoral decisions.  From the man who gave us the current pension mess to the man who never found a crony capitalism deal he didn't like to the woman whose anger threatened to rip the city apart to a career back-bench legislator whose life ambition was to become Mayor (think about that for a minute), the incredibly sub-par run of Mayors lacking basic leadership skills has crippled the city to a level that might take municipal bankruptcy to recover from.

Houston is a mess, and it's going to continue being so long as Sylvester and friends sit around City Hall wondering what speech he can give next in order to fool the citizenry into believing that he actually has a clue.  More importantly, can he forestall the coming financial vortex for eight more years allowing him to continue to claim the problem "fixed" (in the same manner former-Mayor Bill White "fixed" the pension mess and former Mayor Annise Parker "fixed" homelessness) and skate out of town with a few legacy-making projects under his belt? (Note: He might want to try and do better than Bill White, who only managed to escape with a sidewalk named after him.)

Because the financial and actual infrastructure of the city are crumbling the people have turned inward. Traffic is a mess on the best of days, a dystopian nightmare on the worst. People have gotten so selfish on the road that little things like courtesy and traffic laws have gone the way of the Dodo. Cutting people off to skip a turn line is now commonplace, as is undertaking on the right and pulling in front of people and slamming on the brakes. (Helpful hint: Stay out of the blind spot of other motorists, trust me on this one).

Houston's public transportation system has hit the skids, as reimagining turned out to be an art-installation where the artist (Christof Speiler) did little more than imagine empty buses and design a plan to make it so.  Have you seen Metro's ridership numbers lately?  It's not pretty.  Of course, the toy train is chugging along, moving moderately well-off Houstonians to bars and events, and spit-polishing itself for the upcoming Stupid Bowl.  It's Lady Gaga this year folks, let's pray we don't see HER bare breast during the halftime show.  Maybe she'll sacrifice a nutria rat?

Speaking of the Stupid Bowl, rumblings are already starting that this, LI if you've been paying attention, could be Houston's last.  The last that is unless we take a good, hard look at NRG and commit to providing Houston's middling football team with a Billion-plus dollar play-pen to compete with the likes of Dallas, Minnesota, Los Angeles and (soon) Las Vegas. NRG is not even 20-years old, and you're going to be pummeled with opinion pieces in 2017 talking about how "out of date" it already is and that only a massive injection of public funds is going to save it.

And then we get to the Astrodome, County Judge' Ed Emmet's great, gray, dingy, whale. Of course, there are plans, a parking garage-slash-er-uh-something-or-other that will be there and which will make the wheezing old building shine again because......I don't know, history?  Every other city worth a damn, and many that aren't, rightly decided to implode their former "state-of-the-art-at-the-time" complexes but not Houston.  In Houston it's been decided that almost anything older than 5 minutes is suddenly historical and deserves to remain standing, forever, even if no one really gives much of a damn about it, never visits any more and there's really no use for it.

It's much the same with Houston's restaurant and bar scene. When a place closes people lament the closure, rip their garments and dress in sack-cloth, right after admitting that they "haven't been there in years".

The Media.

2016 was the year we lost our faith in the media.  100%, totally.  It's done, finished, and there's scant evidence that they're going to try and work their way back. Today the New York Times, the Old Grey Lady, dared to lecture Americans on the 'antiquated mechanism' that is the Electoral College.  Coming from a newspaper that's a laughable argument.  TV News is all but shot, newspapers are honestly at this point just too stubborn to die and anything on the Internet is just as likely to be so-called "fake news" as it is to be the ravings of some progressive nutter.  Did you know that "Star Wars" is about *gasp* WAR?  This was news to the functional idiots working at after all.

2017 is, unfortunately, going to give us more of the same.  Because for all of the hand-wringing and concern-trolling from the media on why the American people don't understand their brilliance, there's no talk of ideological diversity, which is the thing they are lacking most.

Want to annoy a newspaper person?  Criticize them.  Even justifiable criticism, calling out a factual error, is responded to with anger and vitriol.  Pointing out bad reporting is met with "Don't you know we're PEOPLE?" and other nonesuch.  And if you disagree too strongly?  They just stop listening.  Which is the good thing about living in an ivory tower, you can just shut the windows to drown out the noise.

There are going to be a LOT of stories in 2017 about the ridiculous nature of rural White America, and how it's ruining the multicultural, fair trade, organic crunchy future that the progressives have designed. Instead of telling us the news of the day, these modern-day low-functioning idiots think they are uniquely qualified to "explain" it to us because they possess a degree in journalism and a blow-torch coupled to word processing software with dodgy spell-check. Oh, and they're hip, everyone they hang out with tells them so. They go to poetry-readings and cocktail-happy-hours at the museum and trivia night at the bars where they drink beer so crafty it was fermented in the navels of local poets.  Do you drink beer like that?  Or wait in line for two hours to eat lunch at the types of places where people wait in line two hours to eat lunch?  Do you dine at a restaurant that has a unisex bathroom?

No?  Then you will need the news explained to you because you obviously aren't worthy of much more than having the news explained to you by those who do.  Now, if you don't mind providing your credit card number and stop asking questions whenever they bill you randomly for "special issues" that have pretty much nothing to do with anything important.

The media will also be turning up their "fact-checking" and "news analysis" as means to insert their political opinion into the news of the day which was once taboo but is now widely praised and, here's a bold prediction, will result in the first Pulitzer Prize being given to a full-on opinion piece disguised as a hard-news expose.  Hell, they're not even going to hide it any longer.

The World.

News flash: There will be wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters, man-made disasters, shootings, stabbings, muggings, beatings, honor-killings etc. The Jews still won't like the Muslims and the Muslims still won't like pretty much anyone. The Americans and Chinese will continue to demonize one another publicly (while speaking diplomatically privately) because their leaders understand the controlling power of a faceless boogeyman.  North Korea will continue to live in the dark ages and Cuba will continue to oppress it's people.  Raul Castro is not a reformer, but the ideological successor of Fidel.  People will continue to wear Che shirts not understanding that, if they knew him in real life, they would either hate him or, more likely if they are women, be raped by him. The UN will continue to tut-tut at everyone and seek for more money by claiming the world is on the verge of overheating in a man-made microwave.

We'll continue to hear how climate change is going to bring about doom and gloom, despite the actual weather and climate results not matching up with the computer models.  Scientists, whose very careers are almost totally dependent on continued funding for climate disaster research, will assure us that it's the models that are correct and reality that has it wrong.

Oil will continue to be relatively low priced, as will natural gas, coal will continue to become more and more scarce in the developed world, but will be more and more valued in the developing world due to low prices.  Around once per month we'll be reassured that workable, economicly renewable energy is 'right around the corner'.

But we'll see some good things too.  We'll hear stories of generosity and bravery, of hope and kindness. There will be beauty in tragedy and mercy in times of war. We will see acts of courage so grand they bring tears to our eyes, up until the point the media/Hollywood machine seeks to capitalize on them that is.

And all of us, the wealthy, the poor, the somewhere in between, will continue to live our day to day lives trying our best to eke out an existence in spite of, not because of, our ruling class and their courtesans.

Such has it always been, such will it always be.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Without further ado: Looking back on 2016

Well, we made it, barely, through 2016.  And while my prediction that the former President of Metro Garcia would be mayor by famously riding the wave of Adrian Garcia's name ID proved to be incorrect, my prediction that Houston was in for a rough fiscal time of it proved telling. Also accurate was my tongue-in-cheek prediction that an angry Annise would burn hot, and then fade away.

Of course, the reality in 2016 was almost weirder than the fiction I created. We elected a lifetime back-bencher as Mayor of the City, who immediately did what back-benchers do: Kick the can down the road on important issues and talk, a lot.  In short, for 2017 I see more of the same. Houston will continue down her spiral of trinket governance and irresponsible spending. Progressives will do their level best to chase "world-classiness" while continuing to try and keep the poor just above water, while enjoying their "white-linen nights" in the Heights and telling us how good they have it.

But, and let's face facts here, 2016 was foul.

Not just bad, but historically bad.  Not only were we forcibly exposed to an election campaign that felt like the political equivalent of Ebola, but we had to sit through three Presidential debates where an ape in a suit and the worst political candidate in the history of ever dressed up like the Emperor Palpatine in  a pant-suit and then wondered why she wasn't "connecting with the people."

It was Sally Fields who famously gushed "You like me! You Really Really like me!" We really didn't (although the Hollywood establishment did) which is kind-of the same dynamic that Hillary has going for her.

2016 saw Katy Perry cry, Kanye West meltdown and a host of Hollywood stars welsh on their promise to leave for Canada should Trump win.  The Bastards.

Nationwide the Democrats took a political beating, their power now confined to some failing metropolitan areas, the West Coast, and pockets of New England. As the Country continues to geographically sort itself out along political ideological lines a stunning realization has hit the Left. They are currently so concentrated that they've messed up the electoral math for themselves. Plus, 1/2 of the country simply can't stand them.

This has led to some amusing temper tantrums from the dimmer of the dim lights in the Dim party. Markos Moulitsas responded to the election results with an f-bomb laced tirade against pretty much everyone, Ezra Klein has pushed Vox into La La Land with wild theories and stories of fantasy and whimsy, and has just realized that "Star Wars" is *gasp* about......war. Greg Sargent is ranting to everyone his little Washington Post blog reaches that something is amiss, and the king of clowns Paul Krugman seems perpetually stuck in the anger stage of coping.

In fact, a LOT of people are ending 2016 firmly planted in the Anger stage. Celebrities from what's-her-name to Lena Dunham have had a good public cry, shaken their fist at 'white people' (think about that) and have pretty much declared the election of the ape in a suit to be the worst thing in America since ever.

Locally however Harris County Democrats are doing fairly freaking spiffy. They had a complete sweep in the down-ballot elections taking every contested county office, judgeship, most of the Constables and contested legislative races at the State and Federal level.  In fact, it's pretty safe to say that, except for Commissioner's Court, Harris County and Houston are in total Democrat control.

What this means is for another post.  For the look-ahead to 2017.  But if the City of Houston is any predictor the County is in for a bumpy ride.

Because Houston did NOT have a good 2016.  Financially the city is struggling, Annise Parker tore us apart trying everything she could to provide the transgender community with a special accommodation, and the oil and gas industry has gotten shellacked due to a glut of supply, relatively weak global demand, and some fairly short-sighted business leadership.

But Houston keeps spending money like a terminal cancer patient on a last, blow-out-the-pension smash-up in Las Vegas.  Turner continues to take junkets like his frequent-flyer miles will expire if he doesn't, plans are in place to spend Millions on bike paths, Millions on concert venues, and Billions on as yet to be determined flood-control project whose parent funding mechanism, the rain tax, was declared null-and-void in a court of law. In short, Houston has stolen the taxpayers credit card, has maxed it out, and is now openly kiting checks from their stolen check-book.

All in the name of trinkets.

Which means that, in many respects, 2016 was not all that much different than the years that preceded it.  Just a little bit worse.

Amazingly, this is better than the 2016 that the media in Houston had.  That was like prior years but a LOT worse.  As meaningful reporting in Houston has gone the way of the DoDo and is being replaced with info-tainment and fake news.

2016 was supposed to be much, much better than 2015. Or so we hoped.  What we ended up with was a turd of a year floating around in the pool of time.

Thank goodness it's coming to a close.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree.....

We've hit that time of the year where I take a look at real life, and keeping up with this blog, and decide that the real world, and everything in it, is more important than coming on here some evenings and 1000 monkeying words.

So with that in mind, it's time for another hiatus.

Enjoy your ChristmaHannaKwanzimas or whatever holiday you choose, or choose not, to celebrate.

Mine's an egg nog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Presumptuous Blogging: Things You Should Read (12/07/2016)

Been a while since we've taken a look around the world of news.....

All of this "recount business"? Attempts to undermine faith in the system. For all of the "Trump is a fascist" talk (and he could be, we don't really know yet) the actions by some on the left attempting to undermine the electoral process is just as scary.

Yes, Virginia, the Carrier Bailout is bad. And so is the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Texas Emerging Technologies fund etc.  A fairer tax code with fewer exclusions, credit opportunities and lower base rates would be a rising tide that lifts all economic boats. Not just the ones with deep pockets and political access.

Suddenly, no-witness "racist" attacks are everywhere. Many of them are outright frauds, some are just simple crimes, and a few are actual racism. It'd be nice if we had an honest media to tell us that.

Jill Stein's money grab is an odd little thing. It's blatantly obvious what she's doing. Once again however the media is unwilling to do that dot-connecting thing they enjoy doing.  Funny how that works.

If everything is slavery then nothing is slavery. When clever people overreach the true atrocities become public works of fiction.

Koch's!!!!!!!  Drink.

Progressives get "religion". When it serves their cause and rallies their sycophants to push policy toward enriching progressive campaign donors of course.  That God thing is just window dressing.

Novel idea: It's not the job of Google, Twitter or Facebook to "curb" hate speech. In fact, it's societies job.  But in order to shut down the racists we do need them to have freedom of speech so we know exactly where they are, are going to be, and what in the heck they are doing.

No Sen. Schumer, there's nothing 'sacred' about overhead bin space. More progressive religion spouted by one of society's worst.

We just lost an election. Let's alienate EVERYONE!!!!!  Instead of, you know, admitting that you nominated the least-likable Presidential candidate in recent years?  That you've built a losing coalition based on anger and bile? That you really don't have a plan outside of telling pretty much anyone who will listen that you're better than them?   Nah. Let's just piss everyone off.

Every article like this is an in-kind donation to Trump 2020. There are reasons Trump won that go far beyond racism. How the leftist media is reporting on Trump is one of them.

"Republicans" should carry a trigger warning.  These folks can't help themselves.  Hopefully, they move past the anger stage and can at least get to the bargaining stage.  It's going to be a long four years if they don't.

The freak out over "fake news" is precious.  What Abe Greenwald said.

No Chris Tomlinson, the alt-right did NOT invent boycotts. Nor is pretending they did improving your standing as America's worst business columnist.  Good grief.

Rule Number one in Climate Change club is that you don't go against the "sky if falling" hysteria of climate change club. And this is a guy who believe climate change is real, that humans are causing it, and carbon should be taxed.  Think about that for a minute.

The leftist media discovers the "working class", hilarity ensues.  After spending the last eight years pretending either they didn't exist, or they were too stupid to pay any mind to.

And finally.....

Van Jones as liberal sooth-sayer is an odd concept. Even odder, this little nugget from the preamble of the article:

Trump’s actual or apparent embrace of racism, white nationalism, ethnocentrism, misogyny, bigotry and nativism has resulted in at least 900 hate crimes against people of color, Arabs, Muslims and other marginalized groups in the United States.

900?  Actual attacks?  I mean, not including the ones that have been discounted as frauds?  In a media obsessed by "fake news" it's a miracle that they don't understand they are the biggest purveyors of the type, and the most widely read.  This makes them the most dangerous.


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Travel: Flying the "revamped" United. Some good, some still (pretty) bad.

After a couple of solid years flying Southwest airlines exclusively, a business trip to Topeka gave me an occasion to fly United for the first time since I abandoned them during what is now referred to as the "Jeffing" (Smisek) of the airline.

The results?  Improved, but nothing special (not that I expected anything special).

Since moving most of my domestic travel to Southwest I've been happy with two things:  1. The timeliness of the flights (I've only had one flight moderately delayed in 2016 and that was due to a mechanical issue, for which the FA's gave us free liquor) and 2. The friendliness of the customer service.

I also enjoy being able to check up to two bags free and, in most cases, the cost for Southwest is competitive, or slightly cheaper, than United.

The downsides.

1. I hate.  HATE, Hate, hate. flying out of Houston-Hobby.  For my money it is 1/4 of the experience of IAH. It's a pain to get to, and they don't have adequate facilities to move people to/from their vehicles to the main airport.

2. Boarding. It's been called the Southwest Cattle Call and that's pretty accurate.  If you pay for early boarding, which I always do, then it's not as bad.  The only rough bit being sitting with the angry face waiting for someone to come and take the middle seat next to you. I've found the sweet-spot to be either right before, or right after, the coveted exit-row seats.  Southwest's economy (they don't have econ + or any product like that) doesn't feel as tight as regular economy on the so-called legacy carriers.  And their seats are infinitely more comfortable.

On to United.

My first flight was a non-stop, Embraer 170.  The company purchased my economy seat, but I bought up to Econ Plus on my own for around $30.  It was money well spent.  This was a flight equipped with United's "Personal Devices" complimentary TV/Movie service, and even though it was a 2 hour flight I watched some TV on my Samsung Tablet and it worked well. Contrast this to Southwest's "free" wi-fi (which isn't really) and I thought United had the upper hand here with their current product.

The leg-room in Econ Plus for United on these E-170's is more than adequate, and it's worth the upcharge to sit in them if they're available.

Here's the thing.  On Southwest, you buy up to board early and pretty much ensure you're going to be able to place your bad in the overhead bin. On United you buy up for legroom. If you want to board early there's an additional charge.  Since the leg-room on SW's normal economy is satisfactory, for all but the tallest of fliers, I give Southwest the advantage, still, on economy product.

There is no comparison for first class because Southwest does not offer it. Although I will say that First on United Express flights feels very not-worth-it due to the fact that you're only getting a slightly wider seat, some free alcohol and etc. No meal service, other perks on short flights such as this.

For once, the service on this United flight was friendly and warm. I didn't feel like I was an inconvenience to the FA's just by existing. I've flown enough that I rarely have requests. I bring my own snacks, and a bottle of water on board, and I only get up, when the seat-belt sign goes off, to use the restroom. If I'm hungry I bring my own meal that I've purchased from the airport (another reason why I prefer IAH to HOU, food choice).

All-in all the flight was uneventful. We were a little late taking off because a piece of ground equipment malfunctioned behind the plane, but we made it up in the air.  Projected turbulence, which never happened, prevented the FA's from unlocking the snack trolleys, but they compensated and served every one by tray as they do in Business/First.

Before we get to the return leg, a moment about United's new coach "snacks".

One area where Southwest knocks United into a cocked hat (still) is in the economy snack area. On Southwest flights I not only receive the customary peanuts, but they have also taken to offering customers packages of Wheat-Thins branded flavored crackers.  The crackers, in addition to the peanuts, are a small, but decent sized snack for a short-haul domestic flight.  Unlike United however, Southwest doesn't offer anything by the way of optional food purchases.  For me this is not a problem because, again, if I'm hungry I buy food in the airport before boarding.  It is something to be mindful of however.

On the return trip I had the mythical "Stroopwafel".  The flavor was good but I'm not a fan of the chewy texture.

About that return trip.  On it I had the worst of United as far as hard product goes.  The Bombardier CRJ-700 with (horrors!) Slimline seats.  A picture:

There exists no world where these are comfortable
The Recaro Slim-line seats are about the most uncomfortable airplane seat I have ever sat in. There is no seating position in which they don't leave you with a sore ass. They are rock hard, and the headrests on them make catching a quick, in-flight nap next to impossible.  I had the exit row ($34) which gave me ample leg-room but whose fixed arm-rests all but destroy seat-width.  To top it off, the CRJ-700 comes equipped with the smallest overhead bins known to man.  Despite multiple warnings, everyone flying HAD to try and jam their rollerboard into the bin.  This meant that I spent 1/2 the boarding process with my leg-room acting as a staging area for baggage to be returned to the front to be gate checked.

To be clear, I don't blame United for that, they did inform passengers SEVERAL times that their rollerboards would not fit in the overhead bins.  But a majority of passengers were too selfish to heed that.  Ultimately, I ended up with another person's rollerboard shoved under the seat in front of me, in the interest of getting the plane off the ground because he didn't want to gate-check.  Sitting at the exit row this was OK for me, primarily because I have plenty of leg-room there.  The FA gave me an extra snack by way of saying thanks.  The idiot with the bag didn't say a word. (Part of the reason your flight experience sucks in economy is your own fault I've found).

Despite the hiccup on the home-leg, I was very pleased in how United performed. For one, the out-leg arrived on-time and the home-leg arrived early, something the FA jokingly reminded us to "keep in mind the next time we run late".  The FA's were friendly, responsive, and genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs.  They even showed some personality from time to time.

All-in-all it was a marked improvement from the "Jeffed-up" days when Smisek was in charge.

One final thought:  There are a lot of issues that get blamed on the airline but are really the fault of the passengers. It's your responsibility to not try and and fit luggage befitting the Grapes of Wrath into the overhead bin and then get angry when it doesn't. If you're on a CRJ-700, gate-check your damn rollerboard. And don't fit it in sideways because that takes away from the bin-space for others.

There is nothing the airlines can do to overcome the selfish attitude toward flying that many passengers have. Little things like boarding out of turn, refusing to clear the aisle while boarding, refusing to turn off your computer, or having too much luggage to carry on all slow the boarding process, lead to delaying the flight, and ruin the flying experience of those around you.

Boorish behavior is not limited to any one airline. It's a contagion that seems to be spreading and is doing none of us any good.

And there's very little the airlines can do to prevent it, despite what some of the more anti-business travel columnists like to say.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Houston Area Leadership Vacuum: But...but...he said some nice THINGS about us.

It's pathetic to the point of being embarrassing.

Tom Herman leaves for UT-Austin (understandable), has a press conference, says a few nice words about Houston, and the media here swoons.

Tom Herman Expresses LOVE for Houston in Statement After Taking Texas Job. Robby Kelland,

Has it gone that far?

Has Houston morphed into the Sally Fields of cities?  Barely literate, not all that bright and gushing "You LIKE me, you REALLY, REALLY LIKE me?"

Houston has always been a city whose inferiority complex (especially where other Texas cities are concerned) is about as big as its geographic area.  When magnified by a media who are diminutive themselves it becomes massive. Like, generates it's own gravitational field massive.

This has always struck me as odd for two reasons.

1. Houston, aside from a few notable items, is a pretty decent place to live. In fact, it would be a great place to live were it not for those who persist on making it a "world-class" city by incorporating the failed ideas of Richard Florida.

2. Most of Texas' major cities are in the same, rapidly sinking, fiscal boat.  So really, there's nothing to yearn for when you look to Dallas, Austin or *gag* Fort Worth because we're all running off a cliff together.

What Tom Herman has proven here is that whispering sweet nothings in the city's ear while running out the morning after a quickie is all it takes to mollify the media in this town.

Maybe Bud Adams should have tried that?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election 2016: The Decline of Traditional Media, the Rise of Social Media

Was it Facebook 'wot won it? Rory Cellen-Jones, BBC

In answer: Not entirely, but it played a role.

Since the days of the founders the American Media has always had an inflated opinion of itself.  In the early days newspapers were house organs for the political views of their founders, in later days the news barons took over and openly shaped the political discourse in the ways they desired.

Recently, the media has sought to hide behind the cloak of "Neutrality".  A cloak that was transparent in it's falsehood, but dishonest (at best) in it's inability to self-examine. In short, the unsigned editorial became a political statement without political consequence. Bad Newspapers, like say, the Houston Chronicle, could take editorial positions and use it to skew their hard media coverage without a hint of self-awareness that reporting of this type was not 'neutral' at all.

But media neutrality has always been a lie.

Walter Cronkite, the revered newsman, was progressive, he approached all of his reporting with the idea that the progressive ideals were the correct ideals. The same goes for Dan Rather, Peter Jennnings, and pretty much every other news-reader you can think of.  Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias" was the first time any insider showed America exactly what was going on behind the curtain of TV news.

And while we haven't had a "Bias" written for newspapers (one reason: few would care) it's becoming patently obvious that the problem within the fish-wraps is worse than it is on the television. As someone whose watched local and national media for a while now, I can name on one hand the number of local reporters in Houston who have a political world-view close to what you or I might consider "conservative". I will not name them here for their job-security.

The problem is most evident when viewing the editorial staffs of the dailies, where conservative thought is given short-shrift and progressive ideals are the norm. Sure, there will be times when an enterprising editor seeks to add a token conservative, but that will be the moderate-conservative hybrid who is certain to not say anything too controversial that will anger the predominantly liberal staff and groups of friends with which they spend the most time.

In Houston think Bill King. Nationally think Jennifer Rubin.

Fox News skewed the other way, they hired commentators and reporters who self-identified as conservative, opening up the door to the for-profit talk-radio gang whose sole purpose was selling old people on gold instead of actually, I don't know, advancing the conservative agenda.

Talking heads like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham aren't conservatives, they're shills. In many cases they are akin to Donald Trump, parodies of conservatives as imagined by progressive thinkers.  Coulter in particular is a beast of a human being, Hannity is a low-functioning idiot, Limbaugh is...well, special, and Ingraham reminds me of someone who's always trying to sit at the big kid's table, but can't follow the conversation closely enough to really fit in.

As such so-called "conservative" news has become a crap-fest full of shouting, fluid ideas that change with the tide and doomsday predictions whenever ratings start to sag. It's also served to dumb down the conservative movement, leading (in part) to the rise of Donald Trump.

On the Left things are worse (if you can believe that). It's telling that the only major newspaper that endorsed the Bronzed Ego was owned and operated by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The remaining boards were incapable of even understanding why a significant portion of the population appealed to the Republican nominee.

And that's a problem.

Because when conservatives and liberals draw away from forums where they're forced to interact they are inexorably drawn to echo chambers where they're not. The alt-right, instead of being out there, in the open, letting everyone know exactly where they were and what they were thinking retreated to the relative safety of 4Chan, 8Chan etc. The Left retreated to the bizarro world of the Democratic Underground and both sides stopped listening.

This led to the new Right declaring everything with which they didn't agree unAmerican and it led to the rise of the Social Justice Warriors on the left. When you looked at it neither side had an appreciation or understanding of the motivations of the other and the media and politicians didn't really get it either.

Except for, Obama and (now) Trump, who utilized social media hidey-holes such as Twitter and Facebook to cause the distrust to fester, and to build support. They succeeded to a point that the members of the media "can't understand" why the right's revulsion toward Obama and the Left's revulsion toward Trump spring from the exact same place.

Of course, it would help if members of the media had a basic understanding of the American political system, but that's probably asking a little bit too much of them right now, in their depressed state.

Election 2016: What we're seeing now is the new normal.

It is quite possible that we've become a nation of spoiled brats.

Where political wins and losses used to be something absorbed with resolve they are now flayed open in a wave of National spleen venting. "Not My President" has become the new, less poetic "Hell no, We won't go" as thousands of young Americans get slapped in the face with the ugly realization that they do not, in fact, get a participation trophy as adults when their side loses.

The media, when they're not suffering from apparent nervous breakdowns (in an honest moment, I hope Ms. Grieder is OK) choose to fan the flame in the name of ratings and page-clicks because someone, somewhere, decided there's piles of money to be made off of the "two Americas" meme.

That's simplistic, of course, and wildly inaccurate which, given the performance of the media during this election cycle, should hardly be a surprise. In fact, we still have ONE America which has residing in its borders Millions of little ideological bubbles, some larger than others, some very small.

For over two centuries now these little bubbles have become more diverse, have expanded in their difference from one another, and are losing that sense of community that once bound them together as tightly as any non-forced unity can be bound. And it's not just our politics that are playing a role in separating us, but our culture and entertainment as well.

Yes, politicians, and political "activists" hold a large part of the blame. The American people have elected (on both sides) a steady procession of snake-oil hustlers, miscreants and just plain awful people into elected office, at all levels of public "service". We gave Anthony Weiner a microphone for goodness' sake.

Harry Reid, possibly one of the worst people to ever be elected to the Senate, did not get there by accident. He was elected by Millions of Nevadans, and then re-elected several times, even after they understood what a dishonest, spiteful individual he was. The US Senate is now possibly the worst collection of characters since Tammany Hall. That is not an exaggeration.

In Texas we've elected Dan Patrick, a man who's ego is so big he titled his book "the Second Most Important Book You'll Ever Read" and he wasn't saying this tongue in cheek. This is a man who thinks he not only communicates with God, but whose thoughts are God's divine word here on Earth.

With these people in charge is there any wonder that the campaigns are horrible, and people are starting to believe that The Anointed One was somehow cheated out of her divine inheritance. We don't view the Presidency as a job any more, we view it as a throne.

And that's the problem.

More than bad politicians, more than the bad media, more than a bad citizenry, the problem is that we've allowed politicians to elevate their roles and importance to us to levels which are improbable considering the level of skill they all possess, and the stubborn little fact called the Constitution.

President Obama was never "our daddy" as Chris Rock famously intoned. Nor did he possess the moral authority to make that claim. Because the President is NOT, as believed, the supreme, unchallenged, ruler of America.

Instead the office of the President is the head of the executive branch of Government. He is also the commander and chief of the military. His job is to ensure that the machinery of the executive branch functions, that the military stands ready to protect the country, and to sign laws and greet visiting dignitaries.

The President is a Store Manager, who often doubles as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Maybe if we visualized Trump in that role, instead of the all-powerful boogey-man we've imagined the Presidency to be, we wouldn't need to freak out like we're currently doing and we could get on with more important things?

Like teaching our children how to be good losers for instance.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Election 2016: That giant Houston Area Sucking Sound. #HALV

Yes, election night was horrible for the Democrats on a National level.  Not only did they lose the White House, but they couldn't wrest control of either the House or, more surprisingly, the Senate, from GOP hands.

It also wasn't that good in Statewide contests across the country, with increasing amounts of State governments shifting to GOP control, including the legislature in Kentucky, meaning the entirety of the South is Republican led, including a growing number of governors as well.

The current Democratic strength is limited to a few solidly blue states, including California which is talking about seceding in a manner that would cripple them financially due to no access to water or energy, New York (which, to be honest, doesn't count for much any more politically), Illinois (where machines still rumble and the dead still vote), New England (where, uh, the leaves are pretty in the Fall), several financially declining cities and their surrounding areas.

This includes the 4th largest metropolitan area in America, Houston. My home town, as well as Harris County which surrounds and makes up most of it.

It was an ugly day for the Harris County Republican Party.

Not only did they lose the high-profile race for Harris County District Attorney, but they also lost (or will face a run-off for) several other elected positions including but not limited to:

Harris County Attorney
Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector
Harris County Sheriff

And every District Judge seat that I could find online, not to mention the Civil Court seats as well as the Criminal District Court seat that was on the ballot.

The only highlights for the HCGOP?

They kept their two seats on the needs-to-be-mothballed Harris County School Authority, Steve Radack won his seat as Commissioner of Precinct 3 and a smattering of constables and Justices of the Peace held their seats.

In short, it was a disaster, largely fueled it seems by two things:

1. Straight ticket voting by Democrats.

Yes, Democrats, who have historically argued against the option but will probably perform some political gymnastics and come out in favor of it now that they think they have an advantage there.  Regardless of your opinion on the outcome the straight-ticket voting option was a bad idea when Republicans were winning and it's a bad idea now that the Democrats are.  The thing about it however is that the parties in power often have very little incentive to make any kind of change to the process, until they're out of power and the new folks don't want to see the change then either.

2. Bad Republicans (for the local market) in high-profile races.

Yes, Trump is the obvious choice, and though he did OK with Hispanics nationwide (actually drawing a higher percentage than Romney) he wasn't able to do so apparently in Harris County, where a LOT of the Hispanic population has Mexican roots. He also apparently didn't do as well here with black voters, and we all know that the White vote in Houston is trending more and more liberal every year, as displaced Californians and other blue state evacuees come here looking for jobs and affordable living options that they cannot find in their home states.

Then there was Devon Anderson. A DA candidate who was so bad she couldn't even consolidate Republican support in what was, at one time, a majority Republican county.  Among people who pay attention to local politics, and who are less likely to vote straight party, I think the Anderson ticket was a definite drag. There were several local high-profile Republicans who urged voters to vote for her Democratic opponent. And while I believe that they themselves probably pushed the button for down-ballot Republicans, I'm almost certain, looking at the numbers, that many of their readers did not.

Add all of this up and you have a mess. A total collapse of a County Republican Party in a State where the GOP kept hold on every major Statewide office (although by diminished margins, which probably has most to do with Trump)

While it's going to be easy for the Texas GOP to look at these results and local Republicans to take a look at Harris Country Returns and blame the party, a bigger problem at play here is the GOP's utter refusal to contest urban elections and address urban issues. Believe it or not, I think there are conservative alternatives to the "tax and spend and then tax some more" policies of big city Democrats, including issues such as infrastructure, public pensions, public transportation and urban quality of life issues that don't involve just saying "no".

Unfortunately, the Harris County GOP seems bound and determined to ignore all of them and allow the Democrats to suck up all of the oxygen.  This is a problem that I don't see going away any time soon, and bringing back Jared Woodfill or the old leadership isn't going to solve it either.  Might I suggest listening to some new voices on urban issues?  Couldn't hurt.

Election 2016: R-E-L-A-X The Country is not going to crumble.

Throughout this entire election process I've found myself dismayed with America's current choices, but I have not ever, nor am I now, really all that concerned with the eventual fate of the Republic itself.

Don't believe me?  Read this.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Back?  Good.

And while I don't think that America is going to be in for days of wine, roses and stuffed peacock, I do think that, ultimately, the Republic will endure.

I think that because the United States of America is a bigger thing than one man in one office at any one time.  We survived Jackson, Buchanan, Harding, the scandals of Grant, the ineptitude of Carter, the god-king delusions of Roosevelt, the paranoia of Nixon, the hedonism of Clinton and the fecklessness of Obama.

In short, America will emerge from this all right.  Maybe not as strong as we were before, maybe with less influence on the global stage, maybe a little bit poorer, but if there's one thing that history has taught us it is that the machinery of the Republic moves on. Yes, we might have just made a modern day Caligula the President-Elect, but the Holy Roman Emperor didn't have any checks and balances on his power, the Bronzed Ego will.

He'll also have a partially functional Congress to have to do business with and a newly motivated minority in the Senate. He'll have States who have enumerated powers seeking to keep those powers and (hopefully) a rather conservative Supreme Court that (hopefully) rediscovers its skepticism toward executive power.

He'll also have a mid-term election to face in a couple of years. And a citizenry to satisfy who has shown a willingness to flip the legislative branch opposite the political leanings of the executive branch in order to curb excess. Like Obama before him, Trump and the GOP are going to find they have a very short window for enacting change.

Granted, the map for Democrats in 2018 does not look promising, and they'll have to find the will and activism to do something they traditionally haven't. In short, they're going to have to turnout for mid-term elections. That they're likely going to be doing with with Sens Elizabeth "high cheekbones" Warren and "Angry" Bernie Sanders as their standard bearers should give them a moment's pause.

The temptation will be there for the GOP to overreach, here's hoping what remains of the Democrats will not let them. I'd appeal to their good sense but the GOP has shown to have little of that remaining.

Most importantly though, the power of the USA lies not in her political class but in the machinery of the people. This morning around 300 Million people are going to wake up and continue going about their daily lives. They will do this tomorrow, and the next day, and the ones after that. They will continue to go to jobs, participate in leisure activities and (hopefully) nurture families that will generate the next generation of leaders.  Leaders who, have a pretty low bar to clear to best the levels of accomplishment attained by the Baby Boomers.

No doubt there will be struggle. There will be disagreement and there will be stumbles along the way. Radical Islamic terror is still a thing, China is still looking to expand her footprint in Asia and Russia will now become very emboldened. Our allies in Europe are still trying to figure out where they went so wrong and Africa is a powder-keg waiting to explode in a fury of Ebola and poverty.

The climate is still going to change (as it has for Millennia) and the United Nations is still going to try and stop it rather than figuring out what in the word we can do to deal with it. Energy demand will continue to increase while supply lines are threatened, and there's still the issue of what to do with a under-educated workforce that's slipping further and further behind because of an education system that's totally in shambles.

The unions will still want more money to maintain their outdated business models and there will still be progressives running around clamoring for economy-killing things and pining for the day that their hand-picked "experts" get their hands back on the tiller.

Crony Capitalism is just as prevalent in GOP administrations as it is in DEM ones, and Sheldon Adelson has spend tons of money making sure that his interests will be brought to the front. In short, there are a long list of distractions that the new Trump-led GOP will have to overcome to meet their campaign promises and try to attempt to open back up an economy that almost 75 years of progressive policy has strangled.

Here's hoping they succeed.

Election 2016: No, the Trump-Led GOP will not welcome the #NeverTrump movement back. (Nor should they)

I have stated all along during this election process that I am a member of the #NeverTrump movement. It had less to do with what the left is decrying as his "racist, sexist and other -ist" followers (I have frequently been termed all of the above by progressives in the past) and more with the complete and utter moral and conservative failings of the man himself.

In short, beating Hillary Clinton was less important to me than keeping my head held high.

I also understood that, for many in the GOP, beating Ms. Clinton was the most important thing of all. It "trumped" ethics concerns or the fact that the Bronzed Ego had several positions that were decidedly not conservative. That winning and (ostensibly) gaining control of the SCOTUS and ending the Affordable Care Act and repudiating Obama were of primary concern.

I get that, and I don't begrudge those people their moment of joy.

You won, congratulations. Enjoy the party, this is now your show, do what you will.

This is how it works in a representative democracy.  Far from having a "mandate" however, the GOP does have controlling interest in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and most of the same at the State level.  It should not be overlooked how powerful their position is.  In fact, Democrats right now are in a worse position than were the GOP eight years ago, because even then the GOP had a fairly dominating presence in the States, which the DEM's lack.

They have the filibuster in the Federal Senate, and a few State's that are very blue, with little GOP opposition. In short, for the next two years (at least, because the 2018 map is not friendly to them) they are going to find themselves scrambling, trying desperately to forge a message that's bigger than "we hate you America" which is where they're likely to go under the lead of Sens Warren and Sanders.

It will not be a nice time to be a Democrat as the progressives will start to turn inward and eat their own.

The coming Democratic fissure is potentially the greatest underrated story of the current election. Suppressed by the bigger, and more public reality of the GOP split.

Except now, I'd call it a GOP take-over, because the win by Trump, and the vitriol that is already springing from it is only going to get worse over time. The Trumpets who said to NeverTrump members "we don't need you" were right.

And we were wrong. Our idea that the GOP was still, at heart, a conservative party was mistaken. The so-called "conservative wave" that always appeared to be just over the horizon was a mirage, as was the libertarian revolution that was destroyed in vitro when the the Libertarian Party nominated Gary Johnson and liberal Bill Weld.

Instead, the GOP of today is a much more populist place, inviting big-government to sit down at the table when it suits their needs and the Libertarian Party is in disarray. Meanwhile, those of us who formed the core of the NeverTrump movement find ourselves on the outs, without a political home and unlikely to find one soon.

Evan McMullin, the independent conservative who ran a long-shot campaign in Utah hoping some electoral votes is correct when he states that Conservatives are out of the GOP but he's wrong in saying that we should abandon it.  We have been forcefully evicted.  And there's no reason for the GOP to let us back in any time soon. The election results have shown that we're not needed. They will go about ostensibly acting like conservative principles matter, but they will govern as they always have.

And that there is no longer a conservative party in America.

Not my circus, Not my monkeys.  Which, all things considered, is probably for the best.

Election 2016: A Tale of Two Parties

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

But congratulations to the GOP for pulling out what appears to be a pretty big win at most levels of government last night, and commiserations to the Democrats who appear to have not.

As I stated last night on Twitter there's going to be a LOT written on this election outcome over the next few days.  Much of it, especially what's coming from the progressive left, is going to be 100% incorrect.

The left is going to tell you that America is now a racist, sexist place and that racist, sexist mouth-breathers on the right voted in a modern-day version of Hitler to office. Trumps brown-shirt proclivities aside (which, to be fair, we really don't know whether or not they even exist at this point) there are data points aplenty showing the 'racist/sexist' meme to be false.

For one, David Duke, titular head of the KKK and running for office in Louisiana, received a mere three percent of the vote in a district, and State that Trump carried.  Second, the same so-called sexist voters who carried Trump also made it a very good night for female Republicans down ballot.

But these are facts, and the people such as Krugman, Blow, Bouie and countless others that are spouting the 'racist/sexist' line are literally too stupid to be confronted with facts. To quote the Hangover "you are literally too stupid to insult."  As such, they are best ignored.

What really happened, what drove new voters to the polls in massive numbers, and what led to a deficiency in Democratic enthusiasm is two-fold.

First, the Democrats nominated as their standard-bearer the most unlikable, scandal-ridden, rent-seeking, self-serving public figure in the last 20 years. In short, there was nothing for Hillary supporters to be FOR. They were all against something else. And unless you have a rallying cry that's more than "beat the other side" history has shown us that you're in a heap of trouble if the other side does.

And they did.  Because in addition to the 'stop Hillary' crowd (which was sizable) Trump also had the "Trumpets" or people who were fired up about what Trump was telling them.  The overlooked and marginalized, the people who had fallen behind and who have spent the last eight years being lectured by Democrats, progressive and social justice warriors on just how stupid they all are. Combine those angry people with the 'anyone but Hillary' crowd and you had a coalition that had the ability to pull out the win.

Already though, the progressive left, too insipid to see where they're wrong, is doubling down. Already there are cries and gnashing of teeth on social media, in online outlets, print journalism etc. The blame game is in full gear, and they're blaming the great unwashed, the same majority that just beat them into an electoral pulp nationwide.

As long as the Democrats continue to do this, as long as they target anyone who is not wealthy, Caucasian, progressive or somehow dependent on them as a lower class they will continue to not experience the electoral success they think they are entitled to.

Trump didn't win because people are racist/sexist/ whatever -ist, he won because he gave people who have been besmirched as such for years now by Democrats, and ignored by Republicans an outlet for their anger. Trump won because he was FOR something, no matter wrong-headed it may seem.

Again, congratulations to him and the GOP for a huge win, across the board.

Don't squander it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day: Some Good Reads Before you Head to the Polls. (If You're Heading to the Polls)

A Vote's Consequences and a Voters Conscious. Matthew J. Franck. Public Discourse

A Republic, Not a Dairy. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

As you know by now, I'm sitting this election out.

I understand that most don't agree with that decision (You should write-in for President but vote down ballot! they say) but it's a decision I've come to soberly, mostly, and am quite comfortable with.

For those of you who are still choosing, or have chosen, to partake in America's Democracy dance please be sure to do so with a modicum of thought. Don't vote "straight party" because you feel you have to, vote that way if, and only if, you WANT to.

Neither the crumbling GOP or the fracturing Democrats own, or have any right to, your vote, and it's not some sense of "pragmatism" that should cause you to vote for one over the other.

When I vote it's for a candidate who will not cause me to regret the vote the next morning. In this race there are none that provide me with that certainty.  Even the Texas Republican Party has been overran by candidates such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, (my)State Senator Paul Bettancourt and others for whom pulling the lever would give me pause.

You might feel differently, and that's OK. As a matter of fact, it's a good thing, because if we all thought the same way this would be a boring old world. despite what the progressive arm of our political discourse would have you believe.

Above all else, vote for liberty.  And free markets and unobtrusive government and a severe reduction of the regulatory state.  Strong private property rights are a plus, as is a fealty to the Bill of Rights and (yes) the Constitution. Because without those items America is just a bigger, more bloated banana republic, something that's going to be all to evident in either a Bronzed Ego or Anointed One Presidency and which we've seen for the last 24 plus years, at least since the end of the Reagan Administration, but really probably not since before WWII to be totally honest.

See you on the other side.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

News Link: 4 Years. Of This.

Hacked e-mails show Clinton Campaign Communicated with State (Department). Matthew Daly & Stephen Braun.

It's become a badge of honor among columnists for the media to pen something that characterizes a Trump Presidency as "the worst thing ever" in terms of world security, economic well-being and the continuation of victim politics disguised as "rights".

I'm not suggesting that any of that is incorrect.  I believe that a Trump Presidency will be a disaster for the US of A. I believe that the Bronzed Ego will not only damage us at home, but abroad as well, tipping the balance of power away from the US and toward Russia and the Chinese, in a manner that could take decades to unwind.

I believe that a Trump Presidency will be awful for civil rights, and for rights themselves. He's already come out against free speech, has supported torture and the killing of Americans, silencing those who are critical of him and has demonstrated some worrying tendencies in the area of foreign policy. His economic ideas are jingoistic, and dangerous.  I will not be voting for him.

But I won't be heading to the ballot box and casting a vote for Hillary Clinton either, because I believe the Anointed One will be just as bad, if not worse, just in a different way.

Throughout their political careers the Clinton's have demonstrated no qualms about casting aside the rule of law and accepted rules of behavior in order to use the Federal Government as their personal tools for graft, patronage and revenge. They have also used it to circumvent the laws, with no fear of repercussion because they, or someone with a favorable attitude toward them, have appointed the very people who would conduct such an investigation.

Forget Monica Lewinsky (if nothing else, for her sake, leave the lady alone) pay more attention to the dirty business deals and shoddy foreign policy deals that Bill Clinton as President, and then Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, green-lighted. This is a couple that is so corrupt they break the bounds of corruption.

Because Hillary would also be awful for civil rights and for rights themselves. She's already come out against free speech, has supported imprisoning (or limiting the ability to make a living) of those who do not subscribe to the politically correct norms of her donor class, she has supported the torture and killing of Americans, silencing those who are critical of her, and demonstrated some worrying tendencies in the area of foreign policy. Her economic ideas are jingoistic, and dangerous. I will not be voting for her.

The bad news is this:  America is staring down the deep, dark hole of it's Caligula moment, and the only thing we're being asked in this Presidential Election is which gender we would prefer our Caligula to be?  There IS no good choice in this 2016 version of "would you rather?" third party nonsense to the contrary.

This election is so bad that it has effectively brought an end to the modern Libertarian Party.  Even the Greens couldn't step up and nominate someone who's not at least ranked at 90% on the bat-shittery scale.

As I've stated for a while now, I'm sitting this one out. My vote is my own and is not pledged blindly to any political party. Neither party has done anything to deserve either my time, effort or support, and they will not be getting any of them.

At 8:30 last night I received a telephone call. It was from the Harris County Republican Party and it went something like this:

"Hello this is the Harris County Republican Party, we just wanted to check in and make sure that you're voting early and that you're planning to vote straight Republican"

Me: "I'm not voting, nor do I owe my vote to any party"


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Future Imperfect: The One Thing You Should Read Today. #HALV #LVLV

Knowledge is Power: The Future of Energy. Robert Tracinski, Real Clear Politics

This is, arguably, the best article I've read to date on energy and climate change.  And, while I don't agree with everything in this (I think Tracinski doesn't dwell enough on how to DEAL with climate change instead of how to STOP it like we currently are), at least the author is thinking logically and not falling pray to the Faux-Scientific ramblings of the Climate Change profiteers who are Chicken Littling us to death under a wave of economy killing regulation and proposed laws.

As the author points out, IF the enviro-movement really wanted to move to a zero-emissions future they would have embraced nuclear fission as a primary power supply.  That they didn't should show you that all they really want are two things:

1. To increase the wealth of their political patronage, all of whom have significant financial dealings with renewable schemes (Al Gore stood to make a personal fortune off of so-called "carbon exchanges" a fact that is lightly reported)

2. To decrease the mobility, wealth and independence of everyone else. Including, and especially, those who donate to the "other" side. (Oil companies make political donations primarily to conservatives who are *gasp* friendly to their cause)

The personal automobile, increased, cheap air travel and other fuel-based mobility tools are signs of personal freedom. Freedom of movement makes a citizenry both harder to track and more difficult to suppress. If you can flee, you are harder to control after all.

The one huge error that the GOP made for years is totally dismissing the idea of climate change all-together.  OF COURSE the climate of the Earth is changing, it has been for around a few Million Mellinnia. To think that suddenly human activity is capable of changing that fact is the height of hubris.  What the GOP always should have focused on is allowing entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn a healthy profit on allowing humanity to DEAL with the change, not lose freedoms and opportunity trying to imitate King Canute.

Part of "getting better" at this whole conservation thing (be a conservationist, NOT an environmentalist) is understanding that the best parts of a free market will ALWAYS act to protect the market. Regulation should be targeted at the bad actors, not designed to sweep everyone up in the same net (I'm looking at YOU federal government).

Whatever comes after the GOP needs to understand this.  Public opinion on climate change has been corrupted, as it has been in most areas, by a government and media who are active partners in developing a great lie. They all clamor to reduce the financial, travel and wealth options of the serfs while flying private planes and dining on nothing but roast peacock and Champagne themselves.

In short, talk about a BETTER way.

Start be reading the above. Finish by engaging locally.  In Houston challenging the trope of groups like Houston Tomorrow (who continue spouting the now all but discredited theories of Richard Florida) with ideas from thinkers like Joel Kotkin is a good idea. In Las Vegas challenging the wisdom behind throwing Billions behind a light rail system that's destined to fail is one way as well.

One thing is clear however, in both my home town and my adopted home town right-thinking people are going to be the key going forward.  Getting them in a position to succeed is going to mean forcing out a lot of the current power structure.

This will not be easily accomplished.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BadPolitics: Waiting for the other shoe to drop on this election.

I stated last night on Twitter that this had to be on last Monty Python prank being pulled on America.

"Two dipshits run for political office"

The debate going on with Python staff (one dressed in drag of course) providing silly answers to questions asked by John Cleese.  Suddenly, he turns, looks at the camera and says:

"And now for something completely different"

*Cue Music.*

As we all are aware by now that's not what's going on.  America, perhaps once the greatest country in the world (debatable I know) is stuck with a horrific game of "would you rather" to determine who will occupy the office of the Presidency from 2017 to at least 2021, barring tragedy.

Would you rather: Be subjected to Donald Trump's blustering idiocy for the next 4 years or Hillary Clinton's shrieking foolishness? This is really a loaded question because, no matter who ends up winning this game show, America is going to lose badly.

It's easy to look at the surface of things and blame the 2-party system with which we're saddled.

Yes, it limits choice and the Republicans and Democrats both have gamed the system to severely restrict the ability of other parties to enter the fray.  From draconian ballot access rules to exclusionary debate standards everything in America is not designed to establish Democracy, but to protect the two parties that benefit the most from the sham that we currently practice.

Yes, Congress has become an incumbency protection racket with the two parties only arguing around the margins of gerrymandered maps hoping beyond hope that one or the other will make a monumental mistake (like the GOP nominating Trump [or, in a normal year Clinton]) that will turn off the electorate to temporarily upset the balance of power allowing them to have majorities in both the Executive and Legislative branches that allow disastrous laws like the Affordable Care Act to pass through on partisan lines.

But that's not 'quite' the root cause of the problem, although it is a symptom of it.  Neither is it that all politicians, and by all I mean all, at every level, each and every one of them, are completely and separately a breed of their own.

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a politician?  It's like talking to a auto-quote generator.  If you meet them at a bar they *might* have a single beer, which they will sit on the table and nurse like a cancer patient while regaling you with their policy priorities and (this last bit is inevitable) "what you need to do" to help them get over the finish line.  Politicians don't have conversations, they have sales pitches. They view every.single.interaction with constituents as either an opportunity to gain a vote, or (more importantly) gain a donation. If the media is there then you become a prop in their minstrel show.  At no point do you get the feeling that they are a public servant and you are an important part of their constituency.

We're long removed from the fantasy of "citizen politicians" who spend the day working on the farm, or in the city, only to be pulled away for a few years, to serve the country and make sage, wise decisions on the matters of the day. That America ever was there is a fallacy that probably needs to die.

What we have today are people who spend a lifetime preparing to run for office, who spend their lives surrounded by the ruling class, so removed from the serfs that they soon lose all ability to socially interact with them.  On the Left you have Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emmanuel and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.  On the Right you have Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez. People who spend their entire lives running from office to office just trying to find a way to glom onto the machine so they're don't have to try and cut it in the private sector.

On the other side are the gadflys. The hangers-on to the political class who act as political remoras, sucking onto the political class and basing most of the business dealings on them.  In Houston we have people like Marty McVey, a man who has, as near as I can tell, no remarkable business acumen except for the innate ability to latch onto the local Democratic political machine and make profit from the largesse of it.

Occasionally, as in the case of McVey and, more notably, Donald Trump, these drains on society decide that they too should make a run at public office. After all, they've grown up their whole business lives around politicians, they view themselves as having the gift of gab and the feel the same way about the commoners as their politician friends do.  It should be a wash right?

Except it's not, and in the case of Donald Trump I'd say there's a better than average chance his campaign was always intended to be a raging dumpster fire in order to aid and abet his life-long friend Hillary attain the office of her dreams.

But the politicians aren't the root-cause of the problem either, they are only a symptom.

Finally we have the media. So far in the tank for Clinton they think the fake chest at the bottom with the air hose running through it is filled with real gold. The media have become blinded by their intense desire to be included in the types of parties their lobbyist friends are invited to. Why else do you think the President attends the White House Correspondents dinner?  It's to throw the sycophants a bone.

To be clear. There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything closely resembling an "unbiased" media. There was never a "good ol' days" where all we got was a solid dose of Walter Cronkite truth. Hell, even Sir Walter the Revered himself didn't give us that.  There is not a person on this Earth, not one, who is capable of 100% repressing their personal beliefs when writing on a topic. THERE.IS.ALWAYS.BIAS. Always. There are no exceptions to this, either on the left or the right.

But still, we're not talking about the problem, only a symptom of it.

The root cause, the Pater Familia of where we are today, stuck in the worst election cycle ever with the two single worst candidates to ever be nominated for office by a major party, is because we, the people, the so-called "backbone of the Nation" have stopped thinking, stopped paying attention, and have outsourced our political discourse to the three groups above.

And I'm not just talking about the 2/3rd of Americans who can't name all three branches of government, I'm referring to people who consider themselves "politically clued in".  I'm talking about party activists, people who stay up late watching FoxNews and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, People who spend their Monday nights at county party committee meetings, their Saturdays phone-banking or block-walking instead of watching College Football as God intended.

I'm referring to people who can name the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, both Minority leaders, the whips, their Governor, all of the State elected officials, their party chairman and their local politicians as well.

Or, as politicians like to call them: useful idiots.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties could have spared us from this mess. The Republicans could have shown a backbone and not allowed a life-long Democrat, and Friend of Bill (Clinton) take over their nomination process and, through open primary votes from non-Republicans, become the parties standard-bearer.  And the Democrats could have decided that no, they're NOT going to run interference for Hillary, forcing her to face some real competition instead of just crazy Bernie other guy that ran, for a minute...ah never mind, you don't remember him either.

Even after the nominations it could be stopped. If only people would be willing to call out their own party when they're wrong.

But they're not. They can't be.  Because so many political types have based so much of their self-worth on whether or not their chosen party wins we're to the point that policy doesn't matter.  This is why politicians can "evolve" on issues and suddenly a vociferous pro-defense-of-marriage Democratic blogger pivots and writes (without a hint of self-awareness) that anyone anti-GLBTQPI(Z? We need to find something different, I'm getting lost) thoughts is a bigot who should immediately be ran out of polite society on a rail.

We either don't think, or we don't care. The result of this is that the ruling class has successfully convinced us that the real threat to the Republic, the number one danger facing us, of changing our way of lives and taking away all of our freedoms,

And we thank them for it, begging them to take over more, empowering them with more and refusing to see what is going on right in front of us each and every day.

"And now for something completely different." won't be.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

HALV: One more thing on the GHP's expensive new office space.

Earlier, (OK, a few minutes ago, I schedule these things so there's some distance) I wrote about how The ruling class is dining on peacock and quaffing Champagne while the under class in Houston is reliving a scene from Oliver! (Please sir, may I have some more?)

Of course there are problems with this, problems that will only be exacerbated as Statist thought continues to plague our politics and mask itself under the guise of "Progressive" political theory, but it doesn't really get to the heart of the issue.

Let's be clear:  Houston having a "nice front door" on a house that's a shambles won't matter one iota.

"That view of Discovery Green"?  Bunk.  Because almost every city in America can find a place where there's a nice view on offer.

"Gleaming offices with stills of Houston?"  Crap. Because you can find picturesque spots almost everywhere.

(The exception to the above rules is Midland, where there is nothing pretty.)

The nicest view of Houston, when entering, is coming up State Highway 288, right about the time you hit the exit to the Zoo.  If you've watched a Texans game on CBS then you've seen it, because that's where they originate the wide shot of downtown.

That Houston has some nice places, and there are people who think we need MORE of them (for "quality of life" or some such) is not the issue. Because any CEO, or President, or Princess, or low-level royalty coming to Houston who thinks they want to upend their company because of some pictures and a view is one step below the intelligence level of the two functional idiots we currently have facing-off for the Presidency.

Roads, accessibility, education, cost-of-living, plentiful, cheap, conveniently located housing, access to services and yes, public transit (designed properly, of which Houston has none) are things that companies consider right behind profit and loss.  Here's what a good CEO would consider (In no particular order):

1. Is Houston an appreciably cheaper place to conduct business than where we currently reside?
2. Is Houston accessible to my workers and clients?
3. Can I hire and retain a quality workforce?
4. Is the long-term political system sustainable?
5. Is the regulatory framework stable, fair and consistent?
1002. Do they have nice parks?
1,000,008. Is their Chamber of Commerce housed in nice offices with pretty pictures?

The point being that trinkets, while nice to have and they make the people working inside them feel better about themselves, do not draw business. It's telling that the two business highlighted in the Chronicle story were newly located in Katy and Pearland respectively, and NOT in Houston proper.

The reasons for this are pretty simple: First, Houston's roads are shit.  And not just "could use some work" shit but "falling apart at the seams" shit.  "You struggle to get around town" levels of shit is what we're talking about. Second, (and this is really not Houston's fault to a point) the education system in Texas is starting to crumble. Yes, we have ourselves some bitchin' football stadiums, and our underwater basket-weaving program is second to none, and boy does HISD have the administration staff cooking. But when it comes to actually, I don't know, educating, the whole kit-and-kaboodle is just as much shit as the roads.

Then there's the regulatory and tax structure in Houston, which is even more shit. City Council and the recent run of Mayors have chosen to take an "ordinance for all" approach to solving problems. Got an issue? Pass and ordinance to solve it. Then, once everything falls to shit, react in horror as the law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head.

Oh, and raise taxes. Or, more specifically, go to the citizens and tell them that they can have more than the dreams of Avarice for just a little bit more than the cost of a pizza per year in increased taxes. Don't worry, the evil, greedy businesses will pa.....ah shit.

In summary: The shiny new, gleaming, GHP offices area gilded front door on what is becoming an increasingly large pile of shit.  The answer?  Right now it's limited to "raise taxes" and " bike exchanges", which only mean that the poor will have a diminished ability to get out of the shit they find themselves in and the rest of us are just going to have to pedal harder to not fall further behind.

Meanwhile businesses, being in possession of shovels, will dig themselves out of the shit and continue to move to locations, outside of the city, preferably upwind of the stench.

HALV: No boom for you. (But it's still going for the ruling class)

"Houston's Boom is OVER!" blared the headline from Business Insider in my news feed today.  Followed immediately by this:

Greater Houston Partnership unveils shiny, new digs in downtown Houston.

They've hidden more details (and their usual rah-rah reporting) in this story behind their paywall, where they (seriously) discuss the President of Mozambique not being impressed with the GHP's cramped offices as being one of the driving forces behind the expenditure of $8-plus Million.

Which sums up the leadership vacuum in Houston pretty neatly methinks.

Houston is a city with a 2nd world infrastructure, glaring budget problems, rising violent crime and an increasing unemployment rate.

But by golly we sure have some nice digs for our quasi-governmental Chamber of Commerce.

A Chamber of Commerce presided over by Jaime Rootes, who also presides over the Houston Texans, that perpetually mediocre NFL franchise on Kirby.

Which is fitting when you think about it. While Texans fans suffer through loss after loss the owner and his crew rake in Millions.  While Houston citizens suffer the members of the ruling class, especially those connected to elected officials through patronage, are thriving.

Welcome to America in 2016 and the "new" American dream. It's not what you know, how hard you work or how innovative you are any more folks, it's whether or not you have enough money to dole out favors to elected officials or quasi-governmental agencies in order to gain subsidy in return.

And it's just going to get worse as we go forward if we continue repeating the same mistakes, and electing the same type of politician to lead us.

Oh say can you see......that all of the tenants of the building are quasi-governmental, or rely on the government for largesse.

Partnership Tower is owned by Houston First, which is a tenant, along with the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, the Center for Houston's Future, the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Visitors Bureau, whose staff has been integrated with Houston First.