Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Texas 2015

Jerry Stratton, June 25, 2015

October 21, 2015: Proposition 3: Slowly chipping away at Austin’s permanent political class
Rosemary Lehmberg falling-down-drunk

Drunk drivers make it unsafe for politicians to live in Travis County.

I am continually amazed at the way the established political class has made being part of the established political class a requirement of governing in this country.

When I wrote that we should disband the state capital and let state officials work from outside the capital, I had no idea the law required some state officials to live inside the capital.

Texas requires state officers “elected by the electorate of Texas at large” to “reside at the Capital of the State during his continuance in office”.

Currently this includes the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Commissioner of the General Land Office, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the three Railroad Commissioners.

Forget having to be a citizen of the United States, or a resident of the state; to be an officer of the state, you have to be a resident of Austin.

While I can understand why this was put in the constitution in 1876, I think it was a bad idea even then. If someone doesn’t do a good job because they live too far away, they’ll be voted out. Even if the requirement had been justified, this is also a good example of something that is better a law than a constitutional requirement.

Proposition 3 aims to remove this requirement, and let people also live in the surrounding cities—or anywhere in Texas if they wish. In the comments by supporters in the Analysis of Proposed Constitutional Amendments, November 3, 2015, is:

The capital residency requirement was included in the 1876 Texas Constitution when state officers traveled to the state capital by horse and buggy and has not been amended since. Advances in transportation, communication, and technology have rendered the residency requirement obsolete and have provided the possibility of performing official duties from other locations. In addition, state officers’ duties extend to locations other than the state capital, and performance of those duties may require the officers to spend a majority of their time away from Austin. Further, the residency requirement creates for statewide offices an elite class of candidates who live in or can afford to move to Austin.

It’s the emphasized section that makes this relatively minor change important. The residency requirement helps limit state offices to those who live in or would like to live in—and can afford to live in—Austin.

The opposition comments include:

October 14, 2015: Red Light Cameras and rock-throwing children

On Thursday night, the Round Rock City Council voted unanimously to give Mayor McGraw the authority to cancel the red light program. It sounds like he’s going to do it. Before the roll call, McGraw said something very, very smart. The purpose of the red light cameras when they started was to reduce deliberate red light runners, not punish people who accidentally missed the light by a fraction of a second because of circumstances that everybody meets once in a while.

But, a lot of people were not paying their red light camera fines. And the Mayor realized that very likely, the people paying their fines are not the people we meant to target. The people we meant to target were the people who are now also not paying their fines.

It is always very easy, when faced with deadly lawbreakers, to focus on the easy catches, the people who aren’t being deadly to begin with. After last week’s shooting, for example, the left wants to punish law-abiding gun owners. Well, that’s no surprise, they always want to punish law-abiding gun owners. They don’t like putting more criminals in jail, or even, sometimes, calling criminals criminals. Those are hard choices. It’s a lot easier to target non-criminals; they are once again literally discussing banning all guns.

However, they recognize that the choice they want us to make is completely unreasonable—take away everyone’s firearms. So they can’t contrast that choice with the reasonable options, such as allowing qualified teachers and administrators—those who pass the stringent concealed carry background check and tests—to carry if they choose. And protecting our children with the same resources we use to protect our politicians, such as the police officers who show up at city council meetings. No, they have to make up something that sounds as unreasonable as disarming all non-criminals for what criminals do. Here’s a typical meme:

A kid on the playground throws a rock at another kid on the playground. The teacher gives rocks to all of the kids since, after all, only a good kid with a rock can stop a bad kid with a rock.

This is typical leftist thinking: if you aren’t in favor of complete surrender, you want total war. This has been a tactic—or intellectual failing—of the extreme left since at least the writing of Advise & Consent, which I reviewed yesterday.

What’s noticeably missing is any sense that they care about keeping the one kid from throwing rocks: no detention, no suspension, and despite the crazy zero tolerance at schools nowadays no punishment for that one kid. The more realistic meme, given what the left wants, is:

October 7, 2015: Round Rock vote to terminate Redflex contract

I’m on the mailing list for Texas Campaign for Liberty, and just learned that the Round Rock City Council is considering “a resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a letter terminating the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.”, on this coming Thursday (tomorrow, that is, October 8, 2015, at 7 PM at 221 East Main Street). This is the letter I’ve written.

Dear Mayor McGraw:

There are better alternatives to red light problems than red light cameras. Wherever they are tried, red light cameras tend to increase corruption, and, eventually, the temptation to reduce safety is too great to resist. Red light cameras tempt the camera company and local officials to reduce yellow times to dangerously low durations so as to increase revenue—currently millions for RedFlex, according to KXAN’s news reports. And the very nature of the revenue-sharing method that red light programs use is a temptation to bribery and other forms of corruption. Wherever they are tried, it seems, eventually somebody falls.

I used to live in San Diego; it is a fine city with fine public officials. But when they brought in red light cameras they lowered yellow times so low in places such as Mission Boulevard that people driving the speed limit would be unable to stop before the light turned red!

RedFlex, the company we currently use, is notorious for both increasing the dangers of intersections by reducing yellow times, and for corrupting local officials. They have been found guilty in Chicago for “one of the biggest bribery scandals in the city’s notorious history”, and according to the Chicago Tribune one of the witnesses said bribery is standard practice for the company across several states. Given that independent investigations, as reported on KVUE, show little if any improvement due to the red light cameras, it would be best to sever ties with this company.

There are several technical solutions that should be tried before risking red light camera corruption:

July 24, 2015: Kirk Watson emerges from cave after 200 years of isolation
Kirk Watson

“No one ever checks my id.” (Jeff J. Newman courtesy Globe/Zuma, CC-BY 2.0)

Former Austin mayor and Texas state senator Kirk Watson, after the Texas legislature voted to require physicians performing abortions to use “due diligence” in determining the age of abortion patients, said:

“I can’t think of another instance where we presume women are children,” Watson said. “I certainly can’t think of any situation where we presume a man is a child.”

Senator Kirk Watson either never drinks, or has employees to get him his alcohol. I’m over fifty years old, and I still get carded when the bartender is paranoid enough. More and more of them are today, and more and more the law requires them to be. In most states, “they looked older than 21” is not a defense if a vendor sells liquor to someone under 21. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission requires checking identification “of anyone who reasonably appears 26 years old or younger”. In Indiana, liquor sellers are specifically required to check identification of anyone “who is or reasonably appears to be less than forty (40) years of age.”

Given how difficult it is for young cashiers to tell the age of people over thirty, this means that anyone who doesn’t look sixty is going to get carded.

All of which of course ignores the fact that people age 18 to 21 are also adults, and are assumed children for the purposes of alcohol purchases; male or female, they aren’t even allowed to buy it, identification or not.

Watson also hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on in college campuses today. When two people get drunk, and only the man is held responsible for the consequences, we are presuming that the woman is a child. Trigger warnings have rapidly become an assumption that both women and men are unable to face the world of adult ideas.

More and more on social media, we are presuming that women are children who cannot handle any political discussion without severe distress; and we are presuming that the adults—men—should treat them like children rather than adults.

June 25, 2015: Democrats “oppress” black voters… by killing them en masse
Colfax riot

Commemorating Democrats murdering black Republicans.

While researching my current book, I was in Colfax County, Louisiana. There is a sign there that reads:

On this site occurred the Colfax Riot in which three white men and 150 negroes were slain. This event on April 13, 1873 marked the end of carpetbag misrule in the South.

In this case, “carpetbag misrule” meant “blacks organizing to vote Republican”. Because that is what the blacks were there for: organizing to vote Republican and against their former Democrat masters. Democrats didn’t “oppress” black voters by giving them a photo id so that no one could steal their vote; they oppressed them by massacring them in the hundreds whenever they tried to vote.

Republicans should bear no nostalgia for the Confederate battle flag. From Ford’s Theater to Colfax to The Lorraine Motel, nostalgia for the Confederacy has been used to kill Republicans.

Those 153 people were Republicans. That sign is a memorial commemorating the murder of Republicans in order to perpetuate real racism. John Wilkes Booth and James Earl Ray were Democrats. Lincoln and King were Republicans.

The blanket of Confederate nostalgia covering the south was laid down by Democrats. The sign was put up in 1950. That would have been under Democrat James Davis. Maryland’s state song became the state song in 1939, under Democrat Herbert O’Conor, because Democrats wanted to hark back to the wonderful days of fighting for slavery.1

Here in Texas, Republicans did not do as Democrats would later under Lyndon Johnson, Carter, and so on. They put blacks in charge rather than in the underclass. Norris Wright Cuney led the Republican Party in Texas from 1883 to 1897. At a time when being a black Republican in the south was a lot like being a Christian under Nero.

On the campus of The University of Texas, Austin, Democrats—notably regent George W. Littlefield—placed a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, on campus. Jefferson Davis was a Democrat. His citizenship rights were restored by Democrat Jimmy Carter. More importantly he was a pro-slavery traitor. Jefferson Davis has no place on a public university in the Union. He should go, and I say replace him with Norris Wright Cuney.

  1. <- Union free riders
  2. Election 2016 ->