Somehow I found myself in a Mastermind Group with a bunch of authors. If you are wondering how Thomas (not an author) started hanging in an author mastermind group, I can tell you I have no idea. If memory serves me correctly, one of them saw me at a writer’s conference trying to sell author websites and had pity on me for my utter lack of writing prowess.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that typos and me are very good friends. Commas on the other hand and I have not been on speaking terms for some time. I must have had a terrible experience with the comma key as a child. Now my fingers fear that button. So, commas tend to, randomly, appear in my writing, until I hire an editor to herd, them all back into place.
Unnecessary Aside: Mastermind Groups
If you are not in a Mastermind Group you are missing out. Though we are spread across four timezones we meet face to face several times a month on a Google+ Hangout. We encourage, pray for, challenge and teach each other what we have learned recently. This is the number one learning event in my month. Thoguh the encouragement is what I value most. Benjamin Franklin had a Mastermind Group (he called it a Junto) and we all know how he turned out.
End Unnecessary Aside
Last year, these
crazy authors started writing each other poetry for their birthdays. No I don’t know why.
When my birthday came along they wrote poems for me. I have to say I was a little flattered. No had ever written me a poem before. I learned a valuable lesson, poetry does not need to be good to be enjoyable. In fact,,,,, there is something delightfully approachable about bad poetry. The general consensus is that my poetry is cheesy at best (yes I write birthday poetry too). But I don’t let that stop me from letting the poetic cheese flow from the inner depths of my velveeta soul.
So here is the poetry. I have hidden the author’s names to protect the innocent (our group is semi secret). Enjoy.
2012 Birthday Poems:
There once lived a compu-boy named Thomas
Who built websites that would alarm us
He coded and hacked
Not one bell did they lack
Internet domination did he promise
Today our dear Thomas turns twenty-sev,
He’s ancient and ready for heav,
If this poem must rhyme,
Then we’d best (double-time)
Change dear Tommie’s first name to Kev.
There once was a web guy named Umstattd
All alone except for his drunk cat
Let’s rock his whole world
And get him a girl
So he finally can have his own rug-rat
I’ve never been much good at rhyme
And today I just don’t have the time.
I’d rather write books
Than see folk’s funny looks
While I grope for a humorous line.
I declare that Rachelle is the winner.
So she can buy Thomas a dinner.
And bring a blind date
For Thomas to rate
Via Google analytics and Twitter.
T.U.J. lives in Texas,
Even so, he has no exes,
So I’m with Rachelle,
Let’s find him a belle,
So she can kick him in the solar plexus
2013 Birthday Poems:
“My name it is Thomas
And I give you my promise
That I’ll fix every errant iPad.”
So no lines will come. Drat!
I long for home.
Thomas is amazing.
Winter is cold.
I need chocolate.
If you can’t tell, I’m the only single person in the group. They are focused on finding me an author wife. I think their goal is to fill my house with a linage of little literary offspring. So if you know any cute writers, do let me know so I can get these folks off my back
Now it is your turn. Next time you see a friend with a birthday on Facebook, write him or her a poem.
,,,,,,,,, (Errant Comma Herd)
I started using Facebook back in September 2005. In those days, Facebook had big brother in the logo and was only for college students. I remember when Facebook came to UMHB. There was a mad rush on the IT department of students doing password resets so that they could get access to their .edu email addresses. The school email accounts were pretty awful, but we had to have one to use Facebook.
Within weeks of Facebook launching, half the school had friended each other. One guy had friended the entire campus and had over 2000 friends. Facebook in those days was much simpler. There was actually very little to do. We had no wall and could only have one photo, the profile photo. So what many students did was rotate their profile photo on a daily basis to reflect their mood.
I loved Facebook in those days. What I saw on Facebook was a reflection of what was happening on campus and in my real life.
Welcome to Facebook. Are you here for business or pleasure?
Fast forward 8 years. Now I am a professional speaker who speaks all over the country. My “friends” list has swelled to nearly 3000 people. This is a bit shocking for an introvert with a handful of close friends. It takes me days to emotionally prep and recover from the conferences I speak at.
Facebook now more closely reflects those exhausting conferences than it does my actual circle friends.
The tragic thing is that important posts from my family are getting lost in the 5000+ daily posts that Facebook tries to prioritize for me. I have tried sorting people into groups, I tried “muting” people I didn’t want to hear from, but to no avail. Facebook is just too overwhelming and growing faster than ever.
The end result is that I have turned off most email notifications because of the noise. This means I miss out on parties put on by my real friends. They have been lost in the noise of book launches and political rallies. I’ve been missing important family posts. My little brothers are growing up fast and I am missing watching that happen on Facebook.
Also, important business messages get sent to me through Facebook. These also get lost in the noise. I need to allow my staff to help handle these messages without giving them full access to my personal correspondence. I still dream of having a girlfriend to send Facebook messages to. I don’t want my staff in on those conversations.
The sad thing is I do want to interact with all 3000 people. I just don’t want to do it in the same way I interact with my close friends.
I’m Moving to a Business Page
I will be converting my Personal Profile into a Business Page. This will allow me to continue to have conversations about marketing, politics and publishing, while also keeping in touch with my real-life friends and family. My plan is to record the process, so that others who would like to convert their pages can do so.
The business page will give me several key benefits:
- Allow my staff to help with incoming correspondence – I get both sales leads and support tickets sent to my personal Facebook page. Moving to a business page will help this kind of communication get forwarded through the proper channels more efficiently.
- Insights and Analytics – Business pages give much better insights as to where you connections live, how old they are etc. If I host an event, what towns would be the best place for that event? Facebook insights will help me answer questions like that.
- Better scale - Personal pages are limited to 5000 “friends” By moving to a Business page I head off a problem that will only get worse.
- Better Advertising – I have started promoting posts more often that are either political or business related. Business pages have better post promotion tools.
7 Tests I will Use to Sort “Real Life Friends” from “Facebook Friends”
At some point, I will create a new personal page. My plan is to keep it to around 150 family and real life friends. I will be using the following tests to help me determine who my real life friends are:
- Companion Test: Companion comes from the Latin. “Co” means “with” and “Pan” means “bread”. So, a Companion is someone you break bread with. So, have we shared a meal recently?
- Coffee & Cider Test: One of the things I do with my real life friends is get coffee at a coffee shop or Hard Cider at the UT Club. Have we gone out for coffee recently?
- Couch Test: Could I crash on your couch without it being awkward? Could you crash on my couch?
- Blood Test: Does the same blood through our veins? If you are an Umstattd (or Umstattd Affiliate or Subsidiary) then you are an automatic friend on Facebook. Blood is thicker than any social network.
- Cell Phone Test: Do you have my cell phone number? Do I have yours? Do we text each other?
- Skype Test: If you live far away, do we video chat on Google+ or Skype?
- Family Test: Do you know my family? Do I know your family?
I’m Moving to Google+
I really like Google+ and will spend more time there and less on Facebook. Are you on Google+? Circle me!
Last week I asked Perry to call a Special Session and laid out strategies to help us get the pro-life bill passed this time. The Session is now underway and I would like to give you an update on how things are going at the Texas Capitol.
The Story Behind the #Stand4Life Hashtag
Last week we decided to do something to help promote grassroots pro-life unity. So we invited all the pro-life leaders we knew to a conference call. The first item of business on that call was to try to pick one hashtag we could all use together. After a considerable debate we all settled on #Stand4Life.
Then we started organizing the grassroots activities for Monday and then for Tuesday. We had leaders on the call from all over Texas in addition to leaders from national groups.
How the #LetTexasSpeak Rally Went from Idea to Reality in 18 Hours.
On our Monday night call, Jason Vaughn had the interesting idea to hold a three-hour rally where we let the people of Texas share why they are pro-life. I thought it was a terrible idea but we went with it anyway.
The vision behind #LetTexasSpeak was to show the world that Wendy does not speak for Texas. It is time to let the voices of the Texas people be heard. So that night we purchased www.LetTexasSpeak.com and I called in video guru Alex Lerma to livestream the whole thing.
We did not go three hours. We went nine!
While the House committee was considering the bill, we had continuous speeches and worship in the rotunda. Pro-lifers all over Texas shared their stories from 3:30 in the afternoon to 11:45 at night. We would have gone till midnight, but we heard rumors the pro-aborts would riot around midnight. So, we did our best to vacate the Capitol by midnight.
Interestingly, the other side did not want Texas to speak. It didn’t matter if the speaker was a man or woman, old or young, Hispanic, Asian, black or white. They did everything in their power to drown us out. Those efforts were fruitless since we were the ones holding the microphone with a clear signal to the live internet feed.
Follow the Stand4Life YouTube Channel for video of the speeches.
Christians from all over Texas stood together for life. Catholics prayed the rosary next to Charismatics praying in tongues, next to Baptists reading their Bibles, next to immigrants praying in Spanish. I think Martin Luther King’s dream was fulfilled yesterday in the Texas Capitol.
There is nothing we can’t do when we stand together.
Why “Hail Satan” is Trending on Twitter
At one point a small group of pro-aborts started chanting “hail Satan” and swaying back and forth while we were singing “Amazing Grace.” This got picked up by the news and soon started trending on Twitter. Then suddenly the whole world started talking about Satan. It is still trending as I write this. I have never seen the left do more spiritual warfare than I have so far this week.
This video shows some of what we faced:
This has been by far the most intense spiritual battle I have ever seen.
Meanwhile in the Other Rotunda…
While we were in the lower rotunda praying, a group of pro-aborts sat in the main rotunda doing some sort of spiritual ritual.
My sister started worshipping God on the side of the rotunda near where the orange shirts were chanting. At first it was just her, but soon other believers joined her. Before long, a worship meeting broke out as more and more believers joined in. In the end there was no one left in the upper rotunda but people praising the name of Jesus.
- We are no longer just fighting for the unborn. We are fighting for the soul of a nation. #Stand4Life Click to Tweet
- With one side hailing Satan and one side praising Jesus there is no secular side left. #Stand4Life Click to Tweet
- There is no neutral side. On one side we have death. On the other we have life. #Stand4Life Click to Tweet
- It’s easy to bully when surrounded by comrades. It takes courage to #Stand4Life when outnumbered. Click to Tweet
The Amazing Courage of the Pro-Lifers
Of the nine hours of speeches, one stands out to me the most. Let me set the stage for you.
Hundreds of people were walking around us, chanting and cursing us. And yet one by one regular people were approaching the microphone to share why they were pro-life. One particular woman stood trembling for at least thirty minutes trying to get up the nerve to step onto the stool. God had put a message on her heart to share, and finally she stepped up and shared it.
She was terrified, but she did it anyway. That is true courage. Will you stand with her next time?
It was amazing to see the anointing fall on people one after another. I was shocked at the composure each speaker had even with all the jeering and yelling by the other side.
There are four critical votes and we have just passed one of them. Those of us who have been at the Capitol are worn out. I am weary to my bones. We need reinforcements. If you have not yet come down to the capitol we need you there on Monday July 8 and Tuesday July 9.
Follow the Texas Alliance for Life email newsletter for details of committee times and other events.
Now that Governor Perry has called a second special session we have another chance to pass some of the most comprehensive protections for the unborn in recent memory. We should have been able to pass SB5 in the last special session, but we blew it. Big time.
Here are the mistakes we made and what we need to do to succeed next go-around.
Mistake #1: We Failed to Work Together
Most people don’t know this, but there is a huge pro-life civil war waging in Texas. Several big pro-life groups refuse to talk to each other, much less work together.
The problem is that our pro-life legislators are stuck between two warring factions. When there are two conductors, the music is chaotic.
The problem is a spiritual one and the only answer is prayer. If you donate to either organization, you should let them know you want them working together.
How to Win
- Everyone needs to follow Texas Alliance for Life to get on the same page. They have by far the biggest Facebook following and did the best job giving up-to-the-minute updates last special session.
- Make sure you sign up for their email alerts if you have not done so already.
Mistake #2: We Had no Grassroots Leadership
When I got the word that Sunday would be the big push in the Texas Legislature, I went by myself to the Texas Capitol. I brought a roll of LifeTape and a marker. It turns out I was one of the only people there trying to organize any sort of grassroots effort.
What we have in the pro-life movement is Privates and Generals and very few Sergeants. The grassroots activists are ready to jump in the trenches, they just need leaders (Sergeants) in the trenches with them. No amount of Generals in the command tent make up for Sergeants in the trenches.
So, I have restarted Austin Bound4LIfe.
How to Win
We need more leaders who are willing to spend their time organizing pro-life grassroots efforts. This means making t-shirts, buttons and signs. It means bussing in activists from places like Fort Worth & San Antonio.
If you are a grassroots leader, make sure to follow the Texas Alliance for Life for information on when and where we need people to show up. We need to be ready at a moment’s notice.
Mistake #3: We Failed to Pass the Same Version of the Bill in Both Houses
This is the most obvious mistake so I won’t dwell much on it. The bill that came out of the House was great and included the fetal pain amendment, which is nice to have even though it will likely be overturned by the courts. I’m not afraid of a court battle, however. The problem is that the Senate passed the bill without the fetal pain provision.
Because the bills did not match, it had to go back to the Senate where the Democrats killed it with a filibuster and a riot.
How to Win
Someone *cough*Perry*cough* needs to put the House and Senate pro-life leaders in a room and not let them out till they have the same version of the bill.
Mistake #4: We Didn’t Use Enough Life Tape
LifeTape is catnip for journalists. They were taking photos of us the whole time. Nothing makes a journalist want to interview you more than putting tape over your mouth.
I was shocked by how many people had never seen LifeTape on someone before. Bound4Life has been doing this around the country for years. It is time we brought this powerful tool to Texas.
The wonderful thing about LifeTape is that the louder and angrier the pro-abortion protesters get, the more powerful the tape becomes. One protester looked at us and started crying. LifeTape works where words fail.
How to Win
Wear LifeTape! Pray in silence and stand for those who cannot speak for themselves. Find someone who is passing it out and ask for some. Or better yet, bring your own.
Mistake #5: We Failed to Explain the Bill
Most Texans have no idea what SB5 did. They think the bill would arbitrarily shut down abortion clinics.
The bill held abortion clinics to the same health and safety standards that we hold other surgical centers to. Surgical abortions should be treated like other forms of surgery. There is no reason why abortion centers should be held to a less safe standard. Who could be against this? These clinics could upgrade their facilities, but are too focused on making money.
How to Win
Keep to the following simple messaging:
- Abortion Hurts Women
- Abortion Hurts Babies
- Texas Women Deserve Better Than Gosnell
The voters of Texas have spoken overwhelmingly that they want this bill. The House wants the bill. The Senate wants the bill. With enough prayer and hard work, there is no reason for us not to pass a pro-life bill worthy of the Great State of Texas.
Please share this post on Facebook and join me in praying for unity in the pro-life movement.
I am not a fan of special sessions. I feel safest when the Texas legislature is at home. It’s a big deal for me to publicly call for a special session, but never has drastic action been more needed than right now.
(Photo Credit: Texas Tribune)
Update: Perry has called the special session! So there is no need to call Perry. These reasons are why it was crucial that he called a second special session.
Reason #1: Mobs are Like Stray Dogs – Feed Them and They Will Never Leave
Last night the question was called with 15 minutes to spare. It takes about 3 minutes to vote, so there was plenty of time to pass SB5.
Enter the mob.
When the protesters saw that they had lost, there was an incredible outburst of anger from the Senate Gallery. They started shouting for the purpose of disrupting the vote. This is the sort of thing you would expect in the dying days of the Roman Republic, not the glory days of the Republic of Texas.
If we set a precedent of caving in to chaotic mobs, we will have no end of mobs. Soon every special interest will feel obliged to bring a mob to the capitol to get what they want. It is not hard to find a few hundred angry protesters in a state of 25 million people.
We don’t have mob rule in Texas, because Texans know they can make their voice heard in the ballot box. Giving into the mob undermines our entire governmental system. This precedent, if allowed to stand, would be a huge step towards anarchy and then despotism. Even if I were not in favor of this bill I would still be in favor of undermining mob rule by calling a second special session.
Reason #2: Giving Pro-Abortion Activists This Undeserved Victory Builds Democratic Momentum
Democratic policies have destroyed the economies of dozens of states and the lives of millions of babies. We cannot afford to let them wreak their havoc on Texas.
The buzz on Twitter was that last night Texas turned blue. I don’t believe that for a second, but I do believe Republicans will be in for a tough fight in November if the abortion movement is able to leverage this momentum into the ballot box.
One of the reasons Republicans have held the top spots in Texas government is because the Democrats were demoralized and had lost hope for victory. After last night they have new hope and their morale is at an all-time high.
A second special session would reverse this Democratic momentum.
The abortion activists put in a massive effort to fight SB5. I don’t think they can duplicate that effort for a second special session. Even if they could, the bill would still pass. The people of Texas have spoken and they want this bill.
A few angry protestors don’t represent this large state. Voters all over Texas elected an overwhelming pro-life majority to both the House and the Senate. The final House vote was 97-33, and the final Senate vote was 19-10. Last night was not “democracy in action” as the left would have you believe. It was was mob rule.
A loss on SB5 would demoralize the left as all their work would have gone for nothing. So we have a choice: a fired-up left or a demoralized left.
Reason #3: Babies! Babies! Babies!
If you thought the mob shouting last night was bad, imagine the silent screams of millions of tiny babies crying out in pain as they are torn apart in the womb. This is our best chance to save the lives of thousands of babies while also improving protections for women who have this risky surgical procedure.
This is not a game. The lives of children and women are at stake.
What would you do if it were your daughter (or granddaughter) at risk of being dismembered in the womb? Wouldn’t you want to take every possible step to save her?
Governor Perry, the babies of Texas need you to call another special session.
The word on the street is that the Governor’s staff is tallying calls right now trying to determine whether to call a special session.
Would you give the Governor’s office a quick call at 512.463.2000? Tell Perry “Resist Mob Rule, Defend Life, Call Another Special Session.”
After you call, will you share this post on Facebook so others will call as well?
Perry will respond if we give him enough calls. He is pro-life, he just needs to know we have his back. Remember, the left is calling too.
The pro-abortionists outnumbered us all weekend. Don’t let them outnumber us on Perry’s tally book.
Someone once asked me what the elements of Christian leadership were.
I don’t know what all the elements of Christian leadership are. I may know the first one though. It is not service, or wisdom, knowledge or understanding. I don’t even think that it is love although all of these things are important.
I think the first step to being a Christian leader is fear.
Not fear in general, but a specific fear. A fear that casts out other fears: The Fear of the Lord. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. Think of it as the top button on a shirt, if you get this button wrong all the other buttons will also be out of alignment.
How can you be a just Christian leader if you do not tremble before a just and holy God? You must know, as the Centurian knew, that you are under authority. That you have to give an account of how you use your power.
Having power means that your actions not only harm you but potentially many others. Power amplifies the wickedness in our hearts.
Next time you read Proverbs, read Ecclesiastes as well. In Proverbs 1 you learn that Fearing God is the first step on the path to wisdom. In the last verses of Ecclesiastes we see where the wisdom path leads: “Fear the Lord and obey His commandments.”
When you finish the wisdom journey you find you are back in The Shire. You may know more but the key at the beginning is still the same. If you do not fear God you are a fool. Wisdom without the fear of the Lord is grasping at the wind.
The Fear of the Lord is both the beginning of wisdom and the culmination of wisdom.
How can you serve well if you do not love well? I find that our motivations have a significant effect on our actions.
The test to see if you love others is if you serve them. If you see your followers as tools to accomplish your ends you do not love them. A true Chess Master fights for and values every pawn. A servant heart is a reflection of true love.
Here is a man who was once influential in his community. This man is now gone, along with every other member of his generation. This photo made me think of our political leaders.
Do you know what God’s temporary solution to human depravity was? Term limits.
“Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.’” Genesis 6:3.
Sin Was Too Strong
In the ancient world, Adam lived over 900 years, and yet he was unable to stem the tide of wickedness around him. If the ancients would have listened to anyone, it would have been to their father who had walked with God. Yet they turned from the teaching of Adam to their doom.
When humans lived for 800+ years, the wicked got into power and stayed there. This created a feedback loop so powerful that after just 2,000 years, there was only one righteous man left on the entire planet. The corrupting force of sin was too strong for human nature to withstand and God had to start over with the human race.
God phased in his term limits as each generation died sooner than the one before, till no one was left who lived longer than 120 years. With these life limits in place, human depravity is held at least partly in check. We are no more evil than our ancestors 3,000 years ago. Our sins may be different, but we are also no better than our murderous ancestors.
800 Years of King Saul
Would it have been nice to have King David reign for 800 years? Probably. But we would have had to go through 800 years of Saul first, which Israel would not have survived. Also, sin started to work on David as he grew in power. This is the fundamental problem with power.
Sin slowly ate away at David until this “man after God’s own heart” eventually used his power for murder. If David had reigned for 800 years, he may have become a monster. Death may be an act of mercy as God allows us to pass into eternity before we become beasts.
The Only Way To Handle Temptation
The only way to overcome temptation is to flee. George Washington set the example by walking away from power before it ruined him. The wise can see the trap of power and avoid it. So, over time, the halls of power fill with fools and villains who can’t or won’t flee the temptation of power.
These are just some thoughts I had after viewing that 100-year-old image on Wikipedia. What do you think?
- “We need term limits to remove the villains and to keep the fools from falling into villainy.” Click to Tweet!
- “Politics attracts fools who can’t see the temptation of power & villains who embrace it.” Click to Tweet!
- “The only way to overcome the temptation of power is to abdicate.” Click to Tweet!
What do you think?
- Do you agree?
- Are term limits a good idea?
- How can we best create a system that limits human depravity in the halls of power?
For those of you who have followed this blog for some time you know I normally post a republican primary voter guide. This year I have been so swamped with launching the Bestseller Society, that I have not had a chance to put one together. Fortunately my dad, Tom Umstattd, bailed me out and published his list of who he is voting for. I’m voted for the same folks so it works out. These are not “endorsements” so if you are a candidate please don’t put Tom Umstattd as an endorser on your website.
Tom Umstattd Sr’s Picks
This is how Tom Umstattd early voted in the Republican primary; regular voting day is on May 29th, 2012. Voting early, the polls are open until 6pm Friday. To find your voting location visit http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/default.asp or call 512.854.4996
- “TAL” is Texas Alliance for Life.
- “HSLDA” is the Home School Legal Defense Association.
- “THSC” is Texas Homeschool Coalition
- President — Ron Paul (in the primary vote your conscience, in the general election, hold your nose and vote. Rick Perry is not on the ballot)
- US Senator — Ted Cruz, THSC agrees (TAL endorses David Dewhurst, some think Glen Addison is ok, but stick with Cruz)
- Congress Dist 10 — Michael McCaul (incumbent) also endorsed by TAL; Eddie Traylor seems interesting, too.
- RailRoad Comm. — Warren Chisum (TAL & HSLDA agrees)
- RailRoad Comm. — Barry Smitherman (TAL & HSLDA agrees) (running unopposed)
- Place 2, Spm Crt — Don Willett, also endorsed by HSLDA & TAL (but Steve Smith is endorsed by Don Zimmerman)
- Place 4, Spm Crt — David Medina, also endorsed by TAL & Former SC Judge Scott Brister
- Place 6, Spm Crt – Nathan Hecht, also endorsed by TAL (running unopposed)
- Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals — Sharon Keller (R) (running unopposed)
- Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 2 — Jeff Rose (R) (running unopposed)
- Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 3 — Scott Field (R)
- Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 5 — David Puryear (R) (running unopposed)
- Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals, Place 6 — Bob Pemberton (R) (running unopposed)
- County Republican Chairman — Rosemary Edwards (R) (running unopposed)
- Dist. 5 SBOE — Ken Mercer (THSC agrees)
- Dist. 10 SBOE — Jeff Fleece
- Dist. 25 State Sen — Donna Cambell
- Dist. 47 State Rep – Paul Workman
- Pct. 3 County Comm — Gerald Daugherty (Jim Strickland is also ok)
- Pct. 2 Constable — Al Herrera, although I am told both are fine, I like the Hispanic sir name, need more of those in the GOP (like Nathan Macias)
- Pct. 3 Constable — Mike Varela, same reason as above
- Williamson County Attorney: Doyle “Dee” Hobbs
1. School Choice. FOR, although I am against the state funding education, I like having the choice, and I think home schooling is considered a private school, per Leaper vs. Arlington, ISD case. Actual wording: “The state should fund education by allowing dollars to follow the child instead of the bureaucracy, through a program which allows parents the freedom to choose their child’s school, public or private, while also saving significant taxpayer dollars.”
2. Repealing Obamacare. FOR Actual wording: “Congress should immediately repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) and reject the rationing of healthcare by government or the intrusion by the government into the doctor – patient relationship.” Now that we have passed it, we know what is in it. Personally, I can find nothing worth saving in it. Let’s start over from scratch, or better yet, this is not what the federal government should be about, anyway, but the state and local governments.
3. Public Prayer. FOR Actual wording: “Government should be prohibited from restricting the content of public prayer.” I like prohibiting the government.
4. Balanced Budget/Controlling Government Growth, enthusiastically FOR. Actual wording: “Out of control spending should be stopped at all levels of federal and state government through constitutional amendments limiting any increase in government spending to be the combined increase of population and inflation, requiring voter approval.” This idea has been around for a while, but has not been made into law for some reason. It is a no nonsense growth plan, and as an accountant, I think it makes sense to me. We must rein in our runaway government spending!
5. Redistricting AGAINST. Enough already! It seems to me that the state government has better things to do with its limited time & I feel the proposition is too broad: “remedy inequities.” And the courts may merely overturn this future redistricting plan, again. We will do it again in 2020. Actual wording: “The Texas Legislature should redraw the court-imposed lines for Congress and State legislative districts in its upcoming session in order to remedy inequities.”
Here are some others not in my district:
- Congress Dist 17 – Bill Flores or perhaps George Hindman
- Congress Dist 21 – Richard Morgan (THSC
- Congress Dist 25 – Dave Garrison or Wes Riddle
- Congress Dist 35 – Susan Narvaiz or perhaps Rob Roark
Feel free to print this out and take it with you to the polls.
Other Voter Guides
This is part 4 in a series of posts about foreign policy.
- Wrong Assumption #1 Giving Foreign Aid Promotes US Regional Interests
- Wrong Assumption #2 Limited Number of Terrorists
- Wrong Assumption #3 Bullets Can Stop Radical Islam
Our military is designed to destroy foreign governments and defeat foreign armies.
Give our generals a nation in the world and they can crush that government in two months or less. The U.S. military is a powerful and blunt weapon. But, no military has the precision to go into a city and only kill the terrorists. Terrorists will either slip through the cracks or everyone will die.
A military can temporarily stabilize a region but that stability fails as soon as the military leaves. The insurgeants may leave for a time or lay low, but they will be back when the troops leave. Borders stop soldiors much better than they stop terrorists.
Espionnage is the Key
An army of spies would be much more effective at the delicate work of fighting transnational terrorist organizations. Only espionage has the surgical precision needed to fight non governmental actors such as Al Qaeda.
The man we need to fight terrorism is James Bond, not Rambo.
Trying to stop Islamic terrorism with the military is like trying to do open heart surgery with a chainsaw.
I have been dialoging with some friends who work with Chairman Lamar Smith about SOPA. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on SOPA and respond to some of their concerns.
If you don’t know what SOPA is this video is a pretty good introduction.
Claim: SOPA only targets foreign websites.
The “inter” part is what makes the internet work. Congress has no idea how DNS servers work or what the technological ramifications of their law would be. Also, what makes a website foreign? My company Castle Media Group has servers all over the world.
SOPA does a lot more than block access to foreign sites. It is part of a very troubling series of laws. The way to stop piracy needs a more nuanced approach. Yet again Congress is trying to do open heart surgery with a chain saw.
Claim: SOPA won’t harm the internet.
I challenge SOPA supporters to find a single founder of the internet who backs this bill. As far as I know, the wizards of the internet reject SOPA to a man. In fact I challenge SOPA supporters to find one person who supports this bill who can accurately articulate what a DNS server is and how the DNS system works. The “Phone book for the web” definition the press uses is unclear and misleading.
Claim: SOPA will reduce online piracy.
SOPA has no solvency. Messing with DNS servers will do nothing to block unique IPs from sending data back and forth. So the result will be an encrypted, underground black market as full of pirated goods as the status quo. If this bill is passed, there would be technological workarounds in place before the bill even took effect. But the harms would persists for decades. Trying to get content off the internet with laws is like trying to get pee out of a pool with a net.
The harms of SOPA are huge. Laws regarding technology inhibit inovation since the laws persist long after the technological landscape has changed. If this bill was harmless, why would so many websites be protesting it?
Claim: 43 “digital piracy” sites generate an estimated 53 billion hits annually.
Be careful anytime anyone uses the phrase “hits” to talk about how much web traffic. A hit is a single server request be it a file, style sheet, a database query, a script, or an image. It is not uncommon for a single page view to generate dozens of hits and for a single website visitor to generate hundreds if not thousands of hits. I would estimate that every minute you spend on Facebook, Facebook gets 250 “hits.” Hits correlate to traffic about as much as RPM correlates with MPH in your car.
A much more valid metric is “page views” or “unique visitors.”
Claim: Online piracy costs America 200 billion dollars and thousands of jobs.
The number about lost revenue is misleading. First it may be based on bad information in the first place. If the estimators are using “hits” as a way of estimating traffic to pirated sites then their conclusions are based on faulty premises. The number is likely made up and not based on any sort of empirical research.
Secondly, the estimators fail to take into account the elasticity of prices. When a commodity is cheaper, people tend to consume more of that thing. Some commodities are more elastic than others. Energy is very inelastic. Entertainment is very elastic. So when entertainment is free, people consume a lot of that entertainment. You probably listen to more Pandora or FM Radio than songs you’ve purchased on iTunes for instance.
The higher prices are the more discriminating people become. Some movies you will wait to rent because you don’t think they are worth the price of a movie ticket, for example.
So to assume that if we could snap our fingers and remove all piracy that people would start paying for all the pirated content the currently consume is false. The money the industry claims to loose are based on growth rates that are completely unrealistic. $200 billion dollars? Really? The entire music industry is only a 20-30 billion dollar industry and the movie industry is not much bigger. There is no way they could have grown that big that fast in a piracy free world. Where on earth do they expect those 100 billion dollars to come from? Would consumers suddenly have more money to spend or would they just consume less media?
The Solution: Fewer Laws & More Innovation
The solution to piracy is technological not legal. Laws lack the flexibility needed to be effective. The Congress chases technology like a two year old child chases a squirrel. Technology adapts too quickly for the laws to do anything but harm law abiding citizens. The most effective enemy to Napster was the Apple iTunes store. Suing Napster (Which did not require SOPA by the way) did nothing the curb piracy. But the iTunes store makes buying legal content so easy that saving $0.99 to pirate a song is not worth the effort. I can listen to a song playing in a coffee shop, use an app to identify that song and then buy it all within three minutes and all on my iPhone.
This sort of inovation is why the music industry just announced growth in sales for the first time since 2004. The movie industry will see similar growth as they embrace “movies as an experience” and make it easier to legally rent internet movies on your TV. If Hollywood put half as much effort into usability as they put into lobbying, we would see a dramatic increase in sales and a decline in piracy. They need to make renting an online movie through your TV easy enough for my grandmother to do it.
Responding to technology should be like our response to speech. The answer to wrong speech is more speech not censorship. The answer to the wrong use of technology is more technology not regulation.
Nerds created the internet, the nerds can manage it. Congressmen should not regulate what they do not understand.