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SA Express Op-Ed: Vouchers will spend tax dollars on religion


Vouchers are a terrible idea, and it is important to be engaged in this debate. If voucher proponents succeed, it will mean the inevitable dismantling of our public school system.

The word that is often used is “choice.” Supporters argue that vouchers give students and parents a “choice” in their education. Who doesn’t want choice, right? It sounds so good. But let’s examine what this so-called “choice” really is.

Approximately 90 percent of all students — kindergarten through 12th grade — go to public schools in the United States today. Only 10 percent go to private schools. But here is the little secret voucher proponents won’t tell you. Of those private schools, 9 out of 10 are private religious schools. This means the so-called choice is between a public education and a religious education. Do you think this is a real choice? Or is this choice more about a backdoor way of funding private religious schools and sucking money away from the public school system?

There is nothing wrong with sending children to a private religious school. That right has existed for a long time. No one wants to stop a parent from getting what they think is the best education for their children. The problem arises when your and my tax dollars go to fund their religious beliefs.

One of the most important and cherished principles of religious liberty is that government should not force any citizen to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees or, for that matter, even a religion with which he or she does agree. Voucher programs violate this central tenet. Vouchers use taxpayer money to fund a primarily religious education.

Public schools, especially here in Texas, are already inadequately funded. Tax money that would ordinarily go to public schools would be siphoned away by vouchers not only limiting but actually harming the capacity of public schools in the state.

One of the ironies is that vouchers do not improve opportunities for kids from low income families. Voucher payments do not cover the entire cost of tuition or other mandatory fees for private schools. A 2003 study of the Ohio program concluded: “For many families, the financial burden of paying even the relatively small portion of their children’s private school tuition is more than they can bear.” In the end, the families most likely to use a voucher are the ones who could already afford to send their kids to private schools.

Religious private voucher schools usually do not… more.



On Immigration, it’s GOP v. GOP


THE MORNING after President Obama’s State of the Union address,Politico had a story on how Republicans had responded to one contentious issue. The headline: “Priebus struggles to explain GOP immigration messages.”

That would be Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman. His “struggle” was to clarify why Iowa’s new senator, Joni Ernst, said nothing at all about immigration in her 10-minute reply to the president, whereas Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo, in a Spanish-language version of the GOP response, urged Obama to work with Republicans “to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, [and] modernize legal immigration.” Good thing Priebus wasn’t asked about the formal Tea Party response to the president’s speech, delivered by another Florida Republican, Rep. Curt Clawson, or he’d have had still more reason to squirm. Speaking in Englishand Spanish, Clawson called pointedly for “embracing … legal immigrants, and the millions waiting in line legally to begin their own American Dream.”

Then there was Iowa Representative Steve King’s rude Twitter slam against Obama for inviting “a deportable” to sit in the House gallery as a guest of the First Lady. That was a reference to 20-year-old Ana Zamora, a Texas student who was brought illegally to the United States as an infant, and who benefited from Obama’s 2012 executive order indefinitely extending legal status to thousands of similarly situated immigrants.

Though King’s tweet wasn’t an official GOP statement, it created some instant awkwardness for the Republican presidential hopefuls heading to Iowa for a Saturday “freedom summit” hosted by … King. When one of those hopefuls, Senator Marco Rubio, was asked about King’s nasty tone, his answer was careful: “We have to always remind ourselves that we’re talking about human beings with hopes and dreams and families.”

Plainly, the clearest element of the GOP message on immigration is that the GOP has no clear message on immigration. The subject was barely mentioned in the president’s address, but that didn’t stop the loyal opposition from once again getting into an intramural tangle over it.

But is that a bad thing?

For any large political party, a boisterous battle over policy and principle is a sign of fitness, not feebleness. While “diversity” is a sacred cow on the left, it is on the right where real diversity — diversity of ideas and viewpoints — has most often been showcased. In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan famously debated William F. Buckley Jr. on whether the United States should relinquish the Panama Canal. In the 1980s, Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich fiercely clashed over supply-side tax cuts. More recently, Republicans have gone at each other over war in Iraq, education reform, and “enhanced interrogation.”

However disconcerting in the short run, the right’s current rumble over immigration policy is heartening, especially when the argument focuses on ideals and values, and reflects a thoughtful interest in crafting wise, not merely popular, public policy. In a new monograph from Encounter Books — “Open Immigration: Yea & Nay” — Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies and Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute provide a brief yet splendid example of how uplifting the debate over immigration can be.

Each lays out his case in prose that is clear, quick, factual, and respectful.

Krikorian, a well-known immigration restrictionist, argues that while mass immigration may have suited the United States in the 19th-century, it is harmful in the 21st-century. It poses security and economic threats, undermines assimilation, and retards productivity gains by flooding the market with cheap labor. “A modern society doesn’t actually need any immigration,” he writes; his proposal would slash the annual influx from 1 million to about 400,000 — “still higher than any other nation in the world.”

Nowrasteh, by contrast, wants more legal immigration. America isn’t… more here.

By Jeff Jacoby

SAPOA Says City ‘Still Spreading Scare Tactics’ in Health Standoff


The head of the San Antonio Police Officers Association says he isn’t buying that Mayor Ivy Taylor’s ‘order’ to the City Manager and the Chamber of Commerce to ‘stand down’ from their media claims in the health care standoff with the city has calmed negotiations, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Helle says yes, the Chamber has stopped radio and newspaper ads pushing the city’s position, but he says the city’s official web site,, continues to like to a ‘taxpayer funded website’ which ‘disseminates misinformation regarding contract negotiations.’

“Unfortunately, the City Manager and her team continue to spread misinformation that only serves to scare citizens and drive a wedge between the community and it’s first responders,” Helle said.

Helle called the web site, ‘, claims that continuation of the ‘zero premium’ health care benefits now enjoyed by police and firefighters ‘means having to decide between closing all branch libraries or closing all city parks or repairing fewer streets.’

“We are thankful the Mayor has directed the City Manager to stop… more here.


Another S.A. politico joins mayoral race

Photo By BOB OWEN, Staff / San Antonio Express-News 

Former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson

Tommy Adkisson, a former county commissioner, launched his race for San Antonio mayor Saturday with dozens of supporters who came out to block walk with the candidate.

Adkisson, who vacated his commissioner seat for an unsuccessful county judge bid last year, said he was now seeking the mayor’s post to improve city neighborhoods.

He also pledged to restore power to the office of mayor, and the council, that he said has been relinquished to City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

Adkisson said the city manager may “think that maybe she’s the boss of the council, and maybe we’ve allowed that mentality to seep into council proceedings, but really the mayor and council hire the city manager. End of discussion.”

Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte are……read more here.


TEXAS VIEW: Dan Patrick’s plutocratic Texas


THE POINT — Lt. governor’s citizen advisory boards give cushy seats to campaign donors.

Ahead of his inauguration Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced last week he was creating six citizen advisory boards and filling them with about five dozen Texas business leaders. Patrick spoke of the boards generating new legislative and policy ideas on taxes, transportation, water, energy, the economy and jobs, but a look at each board’s membership suggests what Patrick will get is confirmation of his preset ideas on issues such as privatization, school choice and deregulation.

In prepared inaugural remarks released by his office Tuesday, Patrick described himself as a “servant leader,” saying “a servant leader must listen, to identify and hear the will of the people.”

 Patrick will be hearing from some of his most generous campaign contributors when he listens to his advisory boards. According to Texans for Public Justice, 43 of Patrick’s advisers have given almost $2 million to his campaigns since 2005, and several other board members have close ties to organizations that are major Patrick contributors. Though Patrick talked about appointing a grassroots advisory board sometime soon to complement his business boards, one suspects that all citizen advisers may speak, but not all citizen advisers will be equally heard.

Patrick’s plutocratic appointments are curious because they seem unnecessary. It’s not as though the state’s business leaders can’t find a readily available seat at the legislative table. There’s nothing wrong with a politician seeking advice from business leaders, or with business leaders trying to influence legislation. But Patrick is setting up an official structure within his office that magnifies the influence of people whose pursuit of private political interests already is relatively open.

Tea party Republicans — Patrick’s base — might want to ask themselves whether they’ve been played for fools. Many of Patrick’s appointees have been involved in Texas politics for years and have served on state commissions, councils or boards. They embody the very status quo the tea party seeks to dismantle.

Patrick’s move is no exercise in transparency, either, despite its patina of openness suggesting Patrick is bringing out of the shadows what we all know takes place behind closed doors. The doors on Patrick’s advisory boards will remain locked. Patrick emphasized last week that his committees would meet in private. The public will learn of what advice each board has given Patrick and other senators only if he chooses to acknowledge it.

Patrick talked about “bringing in the best and brightest” to advise him. But Patrick’s best and brightest are narrowly selected. They are mostly wealthy white males. Patrick found fewer than a half-dozen minorities and just as few women to offer him advice.

And some of them look like relics of a good ol’ boy Texas past. Former Gov. Rick Perry ……read more here.


Abbott kneecaps U.T. reform effort


“In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah.  And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.”  So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men.  Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.”
2 Samuel 11:14-17

Well, THAT didn’t take long:

Gov. Greg Abbott announced his nominees to fill upcoming vacancies on the University of Texas System board on Thursday, and in doing so, sent clear signals about his vision for those boards.

In an interview with the Tribune last week, Abbott was asked about two regents whose terms on the UT System board are almost over: Would his appointees more resemble Gene Powell, who served as the board’s chairman during a particularly tumultuous time marked by tension with the University of Texas at Austin administration, or Steve Hicks, who was a vocal advocate of ceasing investigations into the flagship university that were contributing to that rift?

“I want people who are dedicated to the job who will focus on bringing excellence to the organization,” Abbott responded. “I will give them marching orders about what I want them to achieve, and I expect them to achieve it without micromanaging.”

That he was referring to the Hicks model became crystal clear on Thursday when Abbott re-appointed Hicks to the board. Powell and Bobby Stillwell, who was an ally of Hicks, will cycle off the board.

Abbott also appointed Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck to the UT board.

First things first, Sarah Martinez Tucker served in the U.S. Department of Education during the administration of George W. Bush, which by itself tells you everything you need to know.

Next, Steve Hicks is the biggest apologist for Bill Powers on the current board.

But David Beck’s nomination takes the cake:

In the last 14 years, he’s given to Texas Democrats, including Kirk Watson, Trey Martinez Fischer and Rodney Ellis

[Emphasis added]

That would be the same Trey Martinez Ferdinand Frank Fischer who was Joe Straus’ designated hatchet man on the Wallace Hall impeachment committee.

Beck is also on the board of “Friends of the University” PAC, whose self description includes this gem:

The only criterion for receiving a donation from Friends of The University has been that the recipient shares our commitment to UT. In the early years the PAC supported staunch UT advocates such as Bob Bullock, John Montford, Bill Ratliff and David Sibley. More recently, it has supported top UT Austin allies like Joe Straus, Judith Zaffirini and Greg Abbott.

Because nothing screams……read more here.

By Adam Cahnman

24 Sexiest Female Republican Politicians


Do you like good-looking women? How about hot women with brains who can discuss the intricacies of tax policy before getting hot and heavy over a conversation about foreign policy? Then put aside your political ideology and enjoy the following list of sexy Republican women.

See the pictorial slideshow here.

by Kathryn Rostan

Texas Supreme Court to hear school finance case later this year


The Texas Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal of last year’s far-reaching school finance decision later this year under a timetable laid out by the high court on Friday. Justices gave the state 80 days to file their briefs in the case and the plaintiff school districts will have 80 days after that. Both sides will then have 40 days to submit replies to the briefs.

Under the timetable, all documents related to the appeal won’t be received for more than six months, meaning that a hearing before the high court probably won’t occur any earlier than the fall. It also probably indicates that a decision on the state’s appeal will not come until 2016. Many lawmakers have predicted that if the school finance decision by state District Judge John Dietz is upheld, the Legislature won’t respond any earlier than a special session in the spring of 2016.

Dietz overturned Texas’ school finance system last……read more here.


Muhammad and Islam’s Sex Slaves


Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities.

According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph,

Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.

A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated,” the article says.

As for “theological reasons” for sex slavery “according to the Sharia,” these are legion—from male Muslim clerics, to female Muslim activists.   Generally they need do no more than cite the clear words of Koran 4:3, which permit Muslims to copulate with female captives of war, or ma malakat aymanukum, “what”—not whom—“your right hands possess.”

The article continues:

But most of it [Islamic State “article” or fatwa] is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.

Indeed, while many are now aware of the Koran’s and by extension Sharia’s justification for slaves, sexual or otherwise, fewer are willing to embrace the fact that the prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad.

One little-known story is especially eye-opening:

During Muhammad’s jihad on the Jews of Khaybar, he took for himself from among the spoils of war one young woman, a teenager, Safiya bint Huyay, after hearing of her beauty.  (Earlier the prophet had bestowed her on another Muslim jihadi, but when rumor of her beauty reached him, the prophet reneged and took her for himself.)

Muhammad “married” Safiya hours after he had her husband, Kinana, tortured to death in order to reveal hidden treasure.  And before this, the prophet’s jihadis slaughtered Safiya’s father and brothers.

While Islamic apologists have long tried to justify this account—often by saying that Muhammad gave her the honor of “marriage” as opposed to being a concubine and that she opted to convert to Islam—they habitually fail to cite what Islamic sources record, namely Baladhuri’s ninth century Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (“Book of Conquests”).

According to this narrative, after the death of Muhammad, Safiya confessed that “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father,” before “marrying” (or, less euphemistically, raping) her.

So there it is.  Muhammad seized for himself as rightfully earned booty (or ghanima) a young woman; he took her after killing everyone dear to her—husband, father, brothers, etc.

And, according to authoritative Islamic sources……read more here.


RER Op-Ed: He Made His Point

CJ Grisham is going a rally at the Capitol today. The march toward Constitutional Carry enters its last heat. The work of reinitiating the Bill of Rights has been long and hard. We had let so much slip away that when the veil was pulled away all the problems were exposed. That’s what happened with Region 7, DPS. They’d been acting on their own authority for years, just nobody thought anything could be done about it so we all just lumbered along hoping for the best. The absurdity of what happened on that Temple road was the tolling of the bell  for the abuse of the Constitution. There were so many red flags that day it becomes impossible to count them all.
CJ was just the right person at just the right time to ignite the passions of people who’d been knowing the problems, but couldn’t put a finger on it for a long time. We had all been led to believe that “Licensing” was a needed step, not even looking at the true meaning. Even though we knew that the Constitution assured the right of self defense we were content to deed that right to the state to dispense as they saw fit, happy when we were “allowed” to exercise said right with the approval of the government.
CJ had played by all the rules. He accepted the state “giving” him the right to have his gun. He took their classes. This is an absurdity in and of itself. A man who has so many medals for serving his country that he doesn’t have enough room on his dress uniform to display them all having to take a class about gun safety! Give me a break! Now, let’s add some other elements. Son trying for a merit badge taking a hike down what is basically a rural road with his father. A freaking BOY SCOUT! With all the punks hanging around the Valero, bumming cigarettes, and this kid is trying for a merit badge?
And let’s look at the officer. Now just picture this. This cop drives up on the scene of a decorated soldier, walking down a country road with his son, who is in the Scouts. What would your first instincts tell you. With all the mayhem this cop has seen on 8th street in Temple (Yeah, I’ve been there) wouldn’t you think such an event would be at least refreshing to him? Is this apple pie version of America so dead that Barney couldn’t even fathom it? Did his “training” so warp his mind, is the public so perverse now that such an image becomes invisible? Now, I don’t have a count, I wasn’t there, but just ask yourself; how many cars must have passed CJ that day and just drove on by? “Gee, there’s a man with a boy walking on the side of the road.” Ok, he had a gun. And now we get to the bottom line (s).
Open Carry Texas has to themes. One, we all have the right to self defense, and two, the public must be desensitized  to the appearance of a gun under normal circumstances, hense the now famous “gun walk!” YES, there are guns in the world, and YES, law abiding, stable people possess and carry them. Mothers against EVERYTHING get OVER it! CJ was (is) a law abiding citizen. He GOT the license. He TOOK the class. He CARRIED in accordance to the law! I’m not the man CJ is. I carry ANYWAY because the police have failed to protect me. I am fully aware that playing by the rules set down by fat cops in Temple will get me KILLED in Killeen, Texas! I carry! I racially profile. Oh, yeah. When I pull up to a store at eleven PM, and some guy is standing outside, in a hoodie, smoking a cigarette, not looking anyone in the eye, I go on point. Sometimes, I just drive away. There are other times if I’m IN the store and such a character enters and goes to the cashier I’m AWARE! These are facts of life, people, and I’m not going to get killed just so “Mothers” can  get a warm fuzzy.
But, as I have said, CJ was just the right guy, at the right time to bust this out. It was almost as if God, Himself, put CJ on that road that day. And this morning he’s carrying the banner still, working for all of us, restoring our God given right to defend our own lives if need be. Like I’ve said before, the very second some young lady pulls her Constitutionally carried pistol out of her purse, and ISN’T raped and murdered, and left in the woods like garbage, CJ Grisham has made his point! I am very proud that he has been my friend. CJ is a chapter in Texas history. I’m very happy to have been one of his footnotes.
By Wilbur Witt
Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin