Podcast: Redemption and Derision

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The story of enslavement to freedom is inherent in the Judeo-Christian culture. During this week where emancipation–being freed from slave owners and ultimately our own limitations–is a central focus, it was fitting, then, for Iris Blue to join me. She spent months in “the hole” in a Harris County (Houston) jail. She suffered addiction to heroin. She fought wardens. And she did it all to herself, willfully, angrily and stubbornly. Her story is inspiring and I hope you’ll listen to it. We talk about child-rearing, the church, and who is Jesus?

In the second half, another, less successful religion is discussed: Global Warming. Charlie Martin, now the science editor at Pajamas Media discusses the latest happenings and the bitter clinging to a discarded belief.

Listen here

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Houstonians: Sheila Jackson Lee Takes A Call During Civilized Town Hall

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

No, no. They’re not elitists. Not at all.



The Leadership Institute

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Houston Conservative Leaders Take Note
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Two Roads Republicans Should Travel By: A Rebuild The Party Meet-Up In Houston, Texas

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Two roads lead to rebuilding the Republican brand and neither road can do it alone. One road starts with the Republican National Committee and Chairman Steele’s leadership on things such as funding truly conservative candidates, withholding support from less principled leaders (hello Arlen Specter), being a more public face, changing the primary schedule so liberal states aren’t choosing the GOP’s presidential candidates, and crafting a cohesive message which Republicans can unite around. The other road starts in the hinterlands.

The hinterlands was where I spent most of last evening. Harris county is the third largest county in the United States according to someone there. It’s big. Texas is big. And, it’s Republican. It is Red, but not Red enough for my tastes. With the jobless and overtaxed hordes moving from places like California and Michigan, I fear the state will morph purple and then Blue and Texas will no longer be the freedom-loving, low-tax, high-innovation state.

To keep Texas Texas, the grass-roots effort needs to be strong. The people I met last night were motivated and intense. They will form a core on which to build. There are other groups around Houston, too, and knowing what all the parts and pieces are up to would help to reduce duplication of efforts.

There was a prevailing notion that the Republican party had betrayed them. In fact, those who had achieved local electoral success, often did so running against the Republican party. To the extent that local politicians could, they excluded the Republican party’s interference. However, the local politicians are nervous. They saw Obama’s grassroots efforts and how organized they were nationally and many politicians are turning back to the party for help. Local politicians need the cover, communication, and just the ability to get more soldiers out in the field. It’s tough for one guy, alone, to do that.

The group also agreed that every election must be contested. I would say this is important, if for no other reason than ideological. Conservative ideas need to get out there and push back against the accepted conventional liberal wisdom.

Another thing. Note to Senators, Congresspeople and the former President: Amnesty was universally reviled. I cannot find words strong enough to convey the contempt these people had for the weak showing by our leaders on this issue. With Phoenix being the #2 city IN THE WORLD for kidnappings thanks to Mexican drug cartels, I don’t think the attitude about illegal immigration is going to much change.

Finally, the grassroots needs a unifying theme and leaders to rally around. Michael Steele has given people hope and a reason to turn toward the official voice again, but people are wary. These RightRoots wanted to create an effort outside the official channels to create accountability within the official channels. I actually think this is very important. Barack Obama was helped to power by a free-wheeling grass-roots group who he could distance himself from because they were unofficial. Rather than be fearful of renegade locals, the Republican hierarchy should welcome independent efforts.

The Right Roots need funding. People need to be able to do the organizational work full-time. This issue is even more pressing considering that the Stimulus bill will send billions of taxpayer dollars to organizations like ACORN which will fund and support Democrat candidates. This kind of obscene tax money usage should terrify Republicans and it does. Along with the noises that the fairness doctrine will be imposed, in some form, on internet interaction, the mainstream media’s bias, and even software companies run by liberals disallowing conservative content, conservative activists feel like they’re fighting a tsunami of power.

Money is power. And right now, Democrats have all sorts of money. Worse, with their redistribution schemes, they’ll be taking taxpayer dollars and shoring up key Democrat constituencies. Of course, if they succeed in driving the economy into the dumper, they might not have money for long.

Republican success cannot come on the back of Democrat failure. Republicans need a clear message. They need a nice marketing strategy. They need a pithy, quotable, memorable phrases to capture the Republican stance on everything from Afghanistan to Iraq to health care to taxation to environmentalism to every topic important to Americans.

The substance is there: low taxes, freedom, individual rights (but it can’t be portrayed as “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” on participant wisely noted), low taxes, family. How those messages are portrayed and who shares the message makes a difference.

Kathleen McKinley, aka Right Wing Sparkle, attended, too. She and I drove together.

Finally, I want to end this with hope. An emerging conservative voice in Houston is being led by the Ragin’ Elephants. Chelsea Winfree wrote:

First: We need to get together, not just as people in one group, but as groups with other groups and states with other states to rebuild this party. FHCRP and Rebuild are working with Raging Elephants to find ways to capture the attention of more people locally and get that sense of unity. Here at Raging Elephants, we are already connected to many people across the country, and plan on starting Raging Elephants chapters across the nation!

Second: Teach each other about technology and resources. Attend Facebook and Twitter classes, to better understand how to connect and communicate with other republicans. Also: if you already know how to use Facebook and Twitter, start your own class!

Third: The Republican message has to be POSITIVE, we can’t continue to beat down the Democrats. We have to show why WE are a good party, and why WE are worth your vote and dedication!

We also discussed the need to outreach to both politicians and students. Politicians don’t even want to associate with the republican party! So we have to bring them back, give them a reason to be proud. As for students, we have to find out what THEY are concerned about and appeal to them. We need them! They are highly motivated and could help this party grow even faster.

The Ragin’ Elephants are a group of black conservatives. This last year has been hard on conservative blacks. These ladies and gentlemen, though, said they were ready to “come out”. It is time.

Conservative principles speak to all people. Maybe now that the hurdle of blacks in power has been jumped by Barack Obama, those who hold conservative ideals in the black and other minority communities will feel free to find the party that speaks to their belief system. That party is the Republican Party.

They may be long divergent roads, but both the hyper-local grass-roots and national official organization roads together will lead to success in the next election cycles. It’s going to take the efforts of many people. It’s going to take being more technologically savvy. It’s going to take speed. 2010 will be here in a blink. There is much work to be done.



Even Houston Has Pension Woes

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Even Houston Has Pension Woes
Houston’s economy is good. What’s the deal?



Snow In Houston On December 10th, 2008

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Snow in Houston On December 10th, 2008
Is Al Gore in Town? Stats here. I’m watching it snow! Woot!



Houston Chronicle’s Great Ike Coverage

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Houston Chronicle’s Great Ike Coverage
It was good too.



Post-Hurricane Ike Correction Of Errors–UPDATED

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Businesses, and I’m assuming the military too, assesses actions and decisions post-consequences to correct any errors. Last night, while I couldn’t sleep (damn caffeine–I had rehooked myself through the long road trips and travel–if it seems like I’m grumpy for the next couple of days, that’s why) my thoughts turned to our experience and what I plan to do differently next time we endure some sort of crisis (could be weather, pay attention to Kyle, could be terrorism, you just never know). I also assessed what worked.

First the gaps:

A back-up generator is not a luxury. When figuring a cost-benefit analysis, the food lost alone (we had a side of beef in a deep freezer), a generator pays for itself after one power outage. So, we need to get a generator. In addition, relief organizations won’t get into the area with ice for at least three days, maybe four. By that time, food is wasted.

We didn’t have enough batteries. I waited until too late to check on how many I had. By the time I figured out we needed more, they were sold out at the store.

Guns and gun training are a must. The police simply cannot be everywhere, but criminals are remarkably effective at being where the cops are not. So, we need to get both.

Don’t let someone borrow tools without supervision. Our chainsaw got damaged. A chainsaw is a precious commodity post-storm.

I ran out of bleach. Again, it was something I thought of too late. Bleach cleans. It kills germs. It’s necessary in large quantities for many reasons.

We needed a good light besides a flashlight for at night. Since we’re not campers, we don’t have a camp light, but we need one.

What we did right:

Plenty of food. We could have gone for a week, probably two with our dry-goods.

Plenty of water. We were okay with that too.

Gas stove. This was unintentional smartness. We do have a gas grill out back fueled by propane and we had extra tanks for back-up, but we used the stove. Here’s the thing though: there’s no ventilation so be careful cooking burgers. Your house will smell for quite some time. Ditto, bacon.

Hand-crank radio. I bought one from Amazon. In fact, after Hurricane Rita, I used Amazon for everything–saw, water purification tablets, bowie knife, etc.

Full tanks of gas. This is a no-brainer but I was surprised how many people were desperate for gas right after everything hit. Lack of preparation has consequences. We needed the gas because we decided to leave The Woodlands. We were at least 100 miles or so out of the area before there were working gas stations. An empty tank would have left us stuck. Also, I was using the car to charge my cell phone every night. The car is an excellent generator. I’m thinking about electric cars too. Wouldn’t get too far with one of them, would you? Trucks are mighty nice in this situation. Our Suburban could be filled to the gills with kids, dogs and stuff and had a nice big (albeit guzzling) gas tank.

Landline, AT&T and Sprint telephone carriers. At one time or another at least one was working–mostly. That was a relief. Its one thing to be without internet (and at my level of addiction that’s painful), it’s another to be without a way to communicate period.

As I think of more, I’ll update.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank the thousands of electrical, tree-cutting, and every other sort of service worker who came to Houston as soon as possible (the tree guy is from Maryland) to help. You cannot imagine the relief and excitement to see caravans of energy trucks pouring into the city.

Updated:

Reader Rorschach adds this in the comment section and I’m adding it in its entirety because it’s valuable. Also, I want to add this before I quote him. My iPhone was invaluable. I had email, text, internet access, WordPress mobile so I could blog, etc. In short, I could stay connected through this one small device. It earned it’s steep price, I assure you.

To the advice:

An addendum if you don’t mind. Not only are chain saws a necessity, but a chain saw that WORKS is a necessity. There are a number of cheap Poulan made ones (craftsman ones are Poulan ones.) that are absolute junk and will run for about an hour or two and then you’ll have to fight with them to get them started and keep them running. Repairing them costs more than a new saw. do yourself a favor and get a good commercial grade Stihl or Echo one. Make sure you store it properly and drain the fuel out of it, or you’ll be sorry.

Generators are a necessity as well. but gasoline powered ones have one major drawback: gasoline. You can’t buy it for the first 3-4 days after a storm. and you are constantly having to go out and refill the tank. You have Natural Gas. go and get yourself a NG fired permenantly installed backup genset. Northern Tool sells several in the 11KW and up range for under 3 grand delivered. The additional advantage is that NG fired engines don’t put out much CO so you should not have an issue of carbon monoxide poisoning.

LED lanterns are great and last a really long time on a charge, but the problem is that the color put out by them is in a range that the human eye is not terribly sensitive to. It is too blue. Fluorescent lanterns are less efficient, but you’ll at least be able to read by them. Don’t get a propane or camp fuel one, they give of CO. You can’t use them inside, and you can’t use them to light the generator while you are filling it with gas either.

Guns: Get yourself a 12 Gauge shotgun with an 18 inch barrel and load it with 00 buckshot. Best home defense weapon ever conceived, bar none. It will not over-penetrate walls and endanger your neighbors. Is somewhat immune to aiming error. (you still need to aim, but with a shot pattern 3″ across, you’re more likely to hit something than a pattern that is 1/3 of an inch across.) They are impossible to conceal, but for home defense, concealment is not really an issue. Here is a blog with a lot of good info on that score:
http://xavierthoughts.blogspot.com/search?q=home+defense+shotgun

Handguns are ideal for protection when you are mobile, but they should be thought of as a bridge to get you to a long gun of some sort, not as a end-all be-all defense weapon.

The concept of being self sufficient for 72 hours is bogus. I don’t know where that number came from but they didn’t even bother wiping the fecal matter off of it when they pulled it out of their butt. 72 hours is at BEST a minimum number, it should really be a week to 10 days.



Abandoning Land Lines For Cell Phones–A Lesson From Ike

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Many people give up land lines in favor of cell phones. I have friends who have done just that. They’re in their twenties, though. And even though they’ve settled down with a house and a kid, they still have no land line. Well. I haven’t spoken with them about their decision since the hurricane, but Ike confirmed one thing for me: it’s good to have a land line.

Cell towers, I found out, lose power too. When that happens communications come to a screeching halt. For a couple days, the only communication came via a land line. To me, it’s just a good security back-up and important in emergencies.

Our next door neighbors got stuck because they only have digital cord-less phones. Guess what happened when the power was gone? My husband laughs at me, but I keep two boring old phones around that require no batteries for just this purpose–one for upstairs and one for downstairs. And every time we’ve lost power, we’ve used them. In this case, we could let our neighbors borrow a phone.

Conclusion: Yes to land lines. Yes to old phones. It’s just good back up.



Hurricane Ike In Pictures

Friday, September 19th, 2008

It is difficult to comprehend the devastation. Even seeing the aftermath, it is so overwhelming to take it all in. Boston.com has some pictures that might help you at least get a feel for it. Amazing, really.