Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 39

And Then There Were Two
Last Tuesday's mayoral election was like elimination night on Dancing with the Stars. We knew that somebody was going to get the boot, but we weren't sure who it would be. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised that it was Peter Brown who did not make the runoff, because now I won't have to put up with any more of his television commercials.

So now we are down to Annise Parker and Gene Locke, who will now meet in a runoff on December 13. Virtually indistinguishable in their positions, victory in the runoff will require that each seek new supporters among those who voted for Brown and Roy Morales. The conservative vote, which gave Morales his surprisingly strong showing, will likely be the primary target of the candidates. And how will they appeal to these voters? Locke provided an insightful answer during an interview with Matt Stiles:

You look to the candidates who did not make the runoff. You look at the base of their supporters, and you try to see what it is that you can say that is appealing to them...
For Locke, the runoff is about saying the "right" things. And what are the "right" things? Whatever will appeal to voters. Whether Locke actually believes those things or not seems to be entirely beside the point--his goal is to collect votes. If he needs to bend his position a little (or a lot), so be it.

In their zeal to collect votes both Locke and Parker will attempt to broaden their appeal, which ultimately means being all things to all people. They will tailor their message to whatever group they happen to be speaking to at the moment, and then deliver an often contradictory message to the next group. They will state vague generalities about making government more efficient and cutting waste, fighting crime, and making the skies bluer, but they will refuse to provide concrete details how they will accomplish these things. This has been their track record for the past ten months or so, and there is no reason to think that this will change during the runoff.

No matter who wins this runoff, the citizens of Houston will lose.

The Pot Calling the Kettle . . .
A few weeks ago the Chronicle reported that Kay Staley, a Houston real estate agent and lawyer, is suing the city for prayers before council meetings that allegedly promote Christianity. While such prayers are inappropriate, this probably wouldn't make my Top 100 list of important issues that should be addressed. In fact, I wouldn't have even brought this up except for Staley's argument:
She said she's offended because the praying goes against the teaching of Jesus. Heavily quoting the Bible, the lawsuit argues Jesus taught praying was not to be flaunted in public but to be done in private.
Does it strike you as more than a little odd hypocritical that Staley is protesting the promotion of Christianity by referring to a Christian document? Staley--who calls herself a "freethinker"--apparentlly didn't think this one through very well. It's people like her who give atheists a bad name.

The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment
Chronicle columnist Rick Casey reports on a study that shows capital punishment has a small, but meaningful deterrent effect. Whether executions deter future crimes is not--or at least, should not be--the purpose of capital punishment. Punishment is just that--punishment. Any deterrent effect is an added bonus.


Rational Education said...

FBN Red Ink Detective had a section on unfunded govt. pension plans for Houston that I thought you may find of interest. The link is:


Brian Phillips said...

Thanks Jasmine. A report recently came out addressing the city's liabilities, and it is quite scary.