Saturday, October 31, 2015

City of Austin attacks The First Amendment

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

Sigh, it looks like the City of Austin wants to get in on the donor intimidation game:

Adler proposes dark money ordinance

Mayor Steve Adler, who was the subject of dark money attacks during his campaign for mayor in 2014, is proposing an ordinance to deal with the problem. Members of the City Council Audit and Finance Committee discussed the matter Wednesday and voted unanimously to forward Adler’s resolution to the full Council for its consideration.
That resolution describes dark money this way: “In an attempt to hide their funding of election activity, large political actors across the country have been funding such activity through non-profit organizations and other entities that generally do not have to disclose their funding sources.”
The resolution also states that an ordinance addressing the issue needs to be in place at least six months before next November’s election “to ensure election funding transparency.”
The resolution directs the city manager to draft an ordinance for the Audit and Finance Committee’s consideration in November after reviewing dark money laws and proposals in other jurisdictions. Those other jurisdictions include California, which, according to the resolution, has “passed and implemented effective laws that require timely public disclosure of heretofore dark money.”
The resolution specifically asks staff to identify effective laws to ensure comprehensive disclosure of election contributions and expenditures “that are funneled through 501(c)4 non-profit organizations and other non-disclosing entities and persons.” The reference draws from a part of the Internal Revenue Code that allows certain nonprofits organized to promote social welfare to spend some of their funds on political expenditures.
Read the whole thing here.

It's also worth noting that if this resolution passed the Audit and Finance committee unanimously, that means Ellen Troxclair voted for it.

Bottom Line: The first amendment protects anonymous speech.  Heck, the Federalist Papers were originally written anonymously.  The City of Austin has no business suppressing speech or intimidating donors.

11 videos in...why hasn't Joe Straus investigated Planned Parenthood?!?

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

The Center for Medical Progress' Planned Parenthood expose began early this summer.  Since then, the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General have acted.  On that note, Jeff Judson highlights the inaction from the Texas House:
With the release of the 11th video showing Planned Parenthood clinics selling fetal body parts, the urgency of the Texas House to hold hearings is more pressing.  Over 100 days ago, our Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General took action.  But Speaker Straus has taken no action whatsoever.
On July 14th, Governor Abbott directed “the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to conduct an immediate investigation of this alleged practice in addition to a separate investigation ordered by the Texas Office of the Attorney General.” As a result, state of Texas investigators served subpoenas at three Planned Parenthood facilities to determine whether their employees are guilty of defrauding the state’s Medicaid program.
On July 15th, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called for “expedited” hearings after the first Planned Parenthood video surfaced.  His statement included the following:  “I am requesting that Senator Charles Schwertner and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee conduct an interim hearing within the next month to ensure no laws are being broken. The committee will report back to the full Senate on Planned Parenthood’s business practices conducted in Texas, and make whatever recommendations are appropriate.” (Emphasis added)
On July 15th, Attorney General Paxton said “The Office of the Attorney General has launched an official investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of a video that details the organization’s calculated slaughter of human babies to maximize the available body parts they plan to sell.”
The inaction of Speaker Straus is deplorable.  Other than a political statement Straus mentioned in an obscure video on the Bexar GOP website where he said “you will see the Texas House committees … getting into this issue themselves” sometime before January 2017, the Speaker has done nothing.  What is the Speaker waiting for?  The need for an investigation and to inform House members is immediate.
“Speaker Straus’ continuing delay in calling for hearings reveals his lack of leadership, his lack of concern for these abhorrent acts by Planned Parenthood and a lack of appreciation for the role of the House of Representatives in fulfilling its role in investigations,” said Jeff Judson, Candidate for HD 121.  “The time for hearings is now, not during the holidays, and not right before the March 1 primary as a political show-hearing in January or February.”
Sign the petition calling on Straus to investigate Planned Parenthood here.

Bottom Line: Whatever token concessions Joe Straus makes to political reality on the life issue, the Texas House's continued inaction four months into the CMP's expose speaks for itself.

Friday, October 30, 2015

LOL, the BEST campaign since BATTLEGROUND TEXAS!!!

"His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,
And he is caught in the cords of his sin."
Proverbs 5:22

Having already reduced themselves to childish name-calling, the pro-Travis County Courthouse PAC is back today with a couple more GEMS!

First, on their Facebook page, they compare themselves to Afghan women:

Pictured below are voters from Afghanistan (women only), India, Zambia, and Florida. What you have in common with all of...
Posted by New Courts for Families on Friday, October 30, 2015

Because a boondoggle for 1200 rich downtown lawyers is TOTALLY the same thing as women voting in Afghanistan (which, as a sidenote, is looking GREAT)....

But when you can't defend the $287 MILLION cost (closer to $600 million once you factor in interest and cost overruns), the lack of sufficient parking, or removing one of the last open lots downtown from the tax rolls...CLEARLY you need to use your LGBT high horse to launch an ad hominum:

New Courts For Families (Travis County)
View this email in your browser

Don Zimmerman is at it again...

Time to Shut Him Down.

Hi friend, 

Don Zimmerman compared gay marriage to pedophilia and now he is leading the charge to defeat the new Travis County courthouse. We have to vote to stop him!
Don Zimmerman needs to go, and we can start by defeating him this week by voting for the courthouse. Early voting through Friday (October 30th), Election Day next Tuesday (November 3rd). 
Your vote is critical. If Zimmerman wins it builds his effort to be re-elected. 
To read more about why we need the courthouse go to our website
And click here for voting information. 
Sara Goodfriend & Rich Bailey
Copyright © 2015 New Courts For Families, All rights reserved. Pol. Ad. Pd. for by Community and Family Courthouse PAC

Sarah Goodfriend is a homosexual activist who, earlier this year, used a probate court to usurp the marriage laws of the state of Texas.

Bottom Line: With election day not until next Tuesday, there's still time for a wheelchair ad!!!

Karen Rove, Joe Straus, and Prop. 7

Joe Straus at a pro-Prop 7 event in San Antonio earlier this fall

"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase.
Proverbs 13:11

Last week, we mentioned that Karen Rove, Karl Rove's wife, was heading one of the pro-Prop. 7 PAC's; that story just got more interesting.

Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call from a source in Joe Straus' district who informed us that many people in the district have received mailers them this week.  The mailers are designed to make Straus appear in lockstep with Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick.  See them below:

Regardless of where else this mailer goes, it does seem interesting that the "Texas Infrastructure Now" PAC wants people in Joe Straus' district to know that Joe Straus is 'just like' Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick.

Bottom Line: While Prop. 7 might remain the least bad way to realistically fund transportation, we find it striking that a PAC run by Karl Rove's wife is using that popular issue to lay down cover fire for Joe Straus in his district....

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pro-Travis County Courthouse PAC is reduced to CHILDISH Name Calling

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

This is hilarious:

 Bamboozle Alert

The opponents to the New Courthouse have begun rolling out of the clown car. They are a dangerous mix of Austin Tea Party members,CM Don Zimmerman supporters, anddowntown developers. Each has their own agenda: 
WHACKY: Councilman Zimmerman doesn't believe in government. So, regardless of the need, the age of the building, or the reasoned plan to replace it - he's suggested, on the record, it should be built out of WOOD

NON-SENSICAL: The Austin Tea party is peddling the idea that if the Courthouse was moved, it would be cheaper. There's no evidence to suggest this, but when did the Tea Party ever concern itself with facts? When the facts don't match their narrative, they simply make it up.

SHORT-SIGHTED: The Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) has, at the last minute and behind closed doors, voted to oppose the Bond. A majority of their membership was unaware that the Board took a position. For a group dedicated to job creation and sensible development for the entire community, this seems to be an ill advised departure from their mission.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Don't kid yourself, this vote is going to be incredibly close.  But this has GOT to be a good sign.  Get out and vote.


Learn about everything on the ballot here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When the latest Planned Parenthood Video Occurs in Your Neighborhood

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Isaiah 6:8

Yesterday we saw the most personally unsettling episode of the Center for Medical Progress' Planned Parenthood expose:

In the video, the Abortionist discusses performing abortions in the last facility in Austin.  Planned Parenthood South Austin is that last Planned Parenthood facility in Austin that performs abortions.  That facility is two miles from this Author's apartment.

It's impossible to describe how alarming it is to know this level of barbarism is up the street from you until you experience it.  But it is.  Singing louder like the "Christians" in 1930's Germany isn't an option.

Not coincidentally, this facility is the primary focus of the ongoing 40 Days for Life campaign in Central Texas.  Knowing that to be the case, we went out this afternoon to pray at the facility.  We were there for half-an-hour.

During that half hour, we saw five women enter the facility; two were Hispanic, two were Black.

The best way to disrupt the abortion industry is to pray for individual clinic workers.  We'll start there.  Cahnman's Musings asks readers to pray for Amna Dermish.

Bottom Line: Here I am Lord, send me.

Simpson requests Special Session over Sanctuary Cities

"Do not remove the ancient landmark,
Nor enter the fields of the fatherless;"
Proverbs 23:10

Interesting news from Team Simpson following Governor Abbott's recent Road to Damascus moment:

“If Texas refuses to uphold the rule of law, we lose our sovereignty ”

(Longview, TX) Wednesday, David Simpson applauded Governor Abbott’s statements on sanctuary cities and his letter to the Dallas County Sheriff in which he told the Sheriff that the sanctuary city polices being implemented by Dallas County will be “No longer tolerated in Texas.”

However, Simpson also asked the Governor to seriously consider a special session to address this issue.

“We must uphold the rule of law within our jurisdiction under our constitutional republic and stop the implementation of sanctuary city policies. How can we complain about the federal government not enforcing immigration law, if we will not uphold our end of the bargain? I support the Governor’s decision to end sanctuary city policies which undermine the fabric of our society. However, we should do it now and not wait till 2017. If sub-political sections of our state will not fulfill their responsibilities, then the Legislature should reign them in now in a special session.”

Earlier this year, following the Supreme Court ruling on marriage, Simpson requested the Governor call a special session to address the repercussions of that decision on the state—particularly in regard to state agencies paying benefits to same-sex couples without legislative approval, protecting the civil and religious liberties of vendors, overreaching local non-discrimination ordinances, and the issuance of marriage licenses. He also called for dealing with the re-defining of the term “parent” on birth certificates without legislative approval.

“I still believe a special session should be called to address the state agencies which are paying same sex benefits with taxpayer dollars not appropriated for that purpose, a practice specifically prohibited in our Texas Constitution. These agencies cannot legally act without legislative approval, and they must be stopped. I believe we could address the marriage issue and sanctuary cities in one special session,” concluded Simpson.
Bottom Line: While we welcome the Governor's recent actions on this subject, there was no reason Sanctuary Cities couldn't have been addressed during this year's regular session and there's no reason to wait until 2017; kudos to David Simpson for pointing this out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Conservative #TXLEGE members dish some SERIOUS Dirt....

"Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world."
1 Peter 5:9

During Tribfest a couple weeks back, several of the most conservative members of the legislature gave a revealing look into how things work in Austin:

[Author's Note: The most interesting stuff is in the second half...not coincidentally, that's when Stickland starts talking.]


  • Patrick (and changing the 2/3rds rule) was the only reason tax relief passed.
  • Lege didn't do NEARLY enough on illegal immigration.
  • Most of the crony stuff is still there.
  • Real spending caps died in the House.
  • House leadership killed several pro-life bills.
  • Burton: Pre-K "the wrong direction."
  • Burton: Even with the 2/3rds rule gone, "you still have to get through" committee chairs.
  • Rinaldi: "The House absolutely did kill a bunch of great things the Senate passed."
  • Spending caps, school choice, and pro-life examples of things that passed Senate and died in House.
  • Stickland: "I have not served in the Texas House with a Republican who campaigned as a moderate."
  • Klick: It's getting harder to do one thing in Austin and say something different at home.
  • Stickland (re: Straus): "It's not so much about Joe in particular as much as who he's chosen to enable."
  • Byron Cook told Stickland the in-state tuition bill wouldn't get a hearing.
  • Straus micromanaged his own team to the point where they weren't having fun.
  • Stickland calls B.S. on the notion Straus rules "by the will of the members."
  • Burton on Seniority: "The longer you're here, the less perks you should get...."
  • Stickland: "Well over 30 self-described movement conservatives" running in GOP primary.
  • Stickland: Voters are madder and better informed than ever before.
  • Bettencourt on Annise Parker: "She has the most failed record: of any mayor in U.S.
  • Burton: Cities are actually "political subdivisions" of state.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Zimmerman proposes Travis County #VOTEBOMB this THURSDAY!!!

Council Member Zimmerman illustrating how his presence on Council has diluted red ink into pink.

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
Mark 2:22

Scholz Garten -- At tonight's meeting of Texans for Accountable Government, Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman came up with an idea we wish he'd thought of two months ago.  Where Ron Paul's campaign created the concept of the "moneybomb," Zimmerman proposes a #VoteBomb where supporters of Uber and Lyft, opponents of the Travis County Courthouse proposal, and supporters of Property tax relief (State of Texas Prop 1) vote en masse on this Thursday.  It's VERY late in the game, and we don't expect much from this, but it's a shot worth taking:

  • Right now, turnout in Travis County for the Texas Constitutional amendments and the Travis County Courthouse is about 1,500 votes.
  • What would happen if just the Uber/Lyft supporters who showed up at last week's council meeting came out to vote on the same day?!?
  • Bureaucrats are pushing Uber/Lyft restrictions the public doesn't want.
  • A #VOTEBOMB would send more of a message than "10,000 emails [that] have had no effect."
Local Activist Trent Pool also discussed the Courthouse Bond:


  • "Travis County voters have a chance to vote against the Travis County Prop.1 bond."
  • The location was "set in mind" without a genuine discussion of location.
  • Not enough parking.
  • "Don's proposal to build it on the East Side makes a lot of sense."
  • "No furniture included in the bond"...will cost another $50 million.
Bottom Line: We understand it's late in the game.  We understand saying "use your vote on an unrelated courthouse bond to express your position on Uber/Lyft" is a longer soundbite than most voters can handle.  That being said, if you're liberty minded and have yet to vote in the Texas' Fall 2015 election, THURSDAY would be a GREAT day to vote.

Zimmerman SCHOOLS Uber/Lyft Haters!!!

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

During a discussion last week about regulating ride-sharing services, Austin City Council-member Don Zimmerman explained the insanity of the proposal currently under consideration:

Zimmerman fends off regs on Uber, Lyft
"We have more TNC rides [from Uber, Lyft, etc.] than we have taxi rides, and there's no evidence that the TNCs are less safe. And there's no demand from the constituents for us to add any regulation to the TNCs ... [enthusiastic applause]" (watch full clip below)
Posted by Austin City Councilman Don Zimmerman on Thursday, October 22, 2015

  • "There's no evidence that our constituents wanted us to do any of this; in fact, my e-mail has been packed with constituents, drivers and riders from the TNC community who do not want any regulation."
  • Deregulate Taxi's: "Why don't we extend choice to Taxi franchises?!?"
  • "We have more TNC rides than taxi rides and there's no evidence the TNC's are unsafe."

When Planned Parenthood Helped Elect J.D. Sheffield

"He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Proverbs 13:20

[Author's Note: Current state reps Ken King and Chris Paddie also received assistance from Planned Parenthood during the 2012 cycle, but they have been far superior on pro-Life issues since taking office than Sheffield.]

J.D. Sheffield was first elected to the Texas House in 2012.  He defeated former state rep. (and current Agriculture Commissioner) Sid Miller.  Over the weekend, we learned something fascinating about that race we'd missed at the time:
Planned Parenthood May Have Played Supporting Part in Primary Races that End in Defeat for House GOP Trio
Family Planning Group that's Been Under Siege at Capitol Worked Behind Scenes to Inform GOP Women on Conservative Male Lawmakers Who'd Been Top Enemies
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor


Landtroop, who was ousted from the House in this week's primary runoff election by GOP rival Ken King of Canadian, had joined Republican State Reps. Wayne Christian of Center and Sid Miller of Stephenville on the list of lawmakers who Planned Parenthood considered to be its three biggest enemies in the Texas Legislature.

But the family planning organization sensed that GOP legislators who'd been attacking it relentlessly in Austin were out of touch with a majority of Republican women voters back in their districts. So Planned Parenthood launched an informal but vigorous networking effort with telephone calls and emails in hopes that it could help give Landtroop, Miller and Christian the boot from the Legislature in the 2012 primary election.


Despite the fact that a variety of different factors appeared to contributed to the outcome of the races involving the GOP legislators that Planned Parenthood targeted, the group may deserve some of the credit even though it didn't pump money directly into the campaign coffers for the challengers who won.

In the eyes of Planned Parenthood, the incumbent House trio in question had been at the forefrtont of a war that the Republican supermajority in the lower chamber declared on the group under the banner of the pro-life crusade. With more Republicans than ever on both sides of the rotunda, the House took the lead last year on legislation that had the effect of excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program, which provides health care services to low-income women. While state law already prohibited tax dollars from being used for abortions, the law that emerged from the Legislature last year took the additional step of banning facilities that are affiliated with abortion providers from the women's health initiative.

Texas legislators had already slashed funding on women's health clinics by more than 50 percent in a move that experts said would cut off family planning services for 300,000 poor women. The Landtroop amendment was designed to choke off the flow of state money to Planned Parenthood by severing it from the women's health program.


Miller, an 11-year House veteran who'd emerged as a member of Speaker Joe Straus' leadership team at the start of the session last year, sponsored landmark legislation last year that requires women to have sonograms before obtaining an abortion. Miller touted touted the role that he had in a move in the state budget battle that cut more than $20 million in funding that had been going to Planned Parenthood.


The state's largest physician group contributed $35,000 to Sheffield in the final week of the runoff fight with Miller. TMA's political arm TEXPAC donated a smaller amount to King, who already amassed as a larger war chest than any House candidate on the runoff ballot. But the TMA has steered clear of the abortion debate even though it turned out to be on the same page with Planned Parenthood in the races that pit challengers against Landtroop, Miller and Christian.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: J.D. Sheffield is the most duplicitous Republican in the entire #TXLEGE on life issues; this explains why.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rain Soaked Longhorns Grind out GUTTY Win!!!

"Yet the righteous will hold to his way,
And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger."
Job 17:9

Darryl K. Royal Memorial Stadium -- In front of the sparse crowd (> 30,000) that braved the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, the Texas Longhorns delivered their guttiest performance of the the Charlie Strong era.  In a game where the weather dictated a trench-warfare style of play, the running game and defense came through.  While there were still sloppy mistakes, they were fewer and further between, and the result was a rain-soaked 23-9 victory over Kansas State on the day they honored Bevo XIV.

A STRONG (pun intended) running game propelled the Horns to a 16-0 first half lead en route to the final victory.  Jonathan Gray led the way with 18 carries for 103 yards.  D'Onta Foreman, Jerrod Heard, Daje Johnson, and Tyrone Swoopes also contributed essential yardage on the ground.  It's worth noting that Junior OT Kent Perkins was back from injury.

This game was especially sweet for Swoopes, who scored all three Longhorn touchdowns.  Swoopes seems to be coming into his own though the short yardage #Swoopesdozer package.  We still think he'd make the best Tight End on the team.

Credit is also due to the Defense, which had it's best performance, by far, of the season.  While they bent at times, they only broke for one touchdown (and, even then, held to stop the two point conversion).  Malik Jefferson, once again, was everywhere.  Jefferson, Junior DT Paul Boyette, Redshirt Freshman CB John Bonney, Senior LB Peter Jinkins, Junior DE Bryce Cottrell, and Redshirt Freshman DE Derrick Roberson all contributed crucial sacks.  Junior S Dylan Haines blew several coverages early, but more than made up for it with a 4th quarter interception.

While the Longhorns only took three penalties, they were for A DISTRESSINGLY HIGH 35 yards.  They botched TWO snaps on special teams (one extra point and one punt).  That being said, they also had ZERO turnovers.

Like we said above, this is the most complete victory we've seen during the Charlie Strong era.

Bottom Line: For the first time in YEARS, we feel genuinely optimistic about this team.  Charlie Strong has developed a strong core of offensive skill players, with a defense capable of spectacular plays while it remains inconsistent on routine ones.  Add a couple of Offensive Lineman, a couple run-stopping Defensive Tackles, a Cornerback, and a Quandre Diggs type Safety and this team will be back to NASTY faster than anyone realizes.

Karl Rove's WIFE Treasurer for pro-#TXLEGE Prop. 7 PAC

"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase."
Proverbs 13:11

We've already discussed our ambivalence to Prop. 7, but this is an interesting development.

Texas Infrastructure Now is a PAC supporting Prop. 7.  They have a glossy website and we've seen their advertising around social media and the Texas Tribune's website.  Poking around for a few minutes on their website did yield one useful piece of information:

Karen Rove is a local lobbyist and is also the wife of one Karl Rove:

Love, etc.: Karl Rove weds Karen Johnson

Bottom Line: Prop. 7 might still be the least bad way to fund necessary transportation upgrades, but Karl Rove's wife working for one of the pro-PAC's is a detail that shouldn't be overlooked.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Real Estate Council of Austin Opposing Courthouse

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

MAJOR news from the Austin Business Journal:
The Real Estate Council of Austin aims to deal a fatal blow to the $287 million Travis County courthouse bond proposal that will go before voters next month.

The 1,750-member nonprofit trade organization issued a statement Thursday opposing the measure to build a new facility near Third and Guadalupe streets — a thriving area with the redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant and the Green Water Treatment Plant along with other office and residential projects in the pipeline.

"The proposed courthouse is the right idea but in the wrong location," said RECA President Ward Tisdale in a written statement. "The proposed location is the last undeveloped and unrestricted block in downtown Austin, and this would not be the best use of the land."

Tisdale also cited the cost to taxpayers. He noted that the city is in the midst of an affordability crisis with rising housing costs, and that additional taxes to pay for the bonds would be an unnecessary burden to residents.

Tisdale said the Travis County Commissioners Court and staff should take a more thorough look at alternatives.

"There are other options available to the county that likely have the infrastructure and ample space for new courthouse facilities," Tisdale said. "They should, at the very least, look into those and report back to the community."

RECA's board of directors includes some of Austin's most influential real estate leaders — and some of those represented companies could have a big stake in what happens at that location. It's unknown if the resolution opposing the courthouse bonds was unanimously supported among RECA's leadership.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: The Real Estate Council of Austin is as insider of an organization as they come.  They even supported last year's rail bond.  For the Real Estate Council of Austin to engage in this type of CYA move means the Courthouse bond is even more unpopular than we'd thought.

Paxton protects Texans from Obamacare

"Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy."
Psalm 82:3

News out of the Attorney General's office:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that Texas has filed suit against the federal government over a regulation forcing states to effectively pay an unconstitutional tax to Washington in order to fund Obamacare. The law coercively threatens to choke off Medicaid funds for the health needs of millions of Texas citizens, including over 350,000 children, unless Texas taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for Obamacare.
“This threat to cut Medicaid funding to Texans unless the state continues to pay hundreds of millions in taxes to Washington amounts to the very ‘gun to the head’ the Supreme Court warned about in earlier rulings on Obamacare,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Not only is the federal government threatening the health care needs of millions of Texans, but it is doing so using Texans’ own money, collected from them through taxes. This represents yet another huge overstep of authority for this administration, which once again has demonstrated their willingness to circumvent the Constitution in order to achieve their policy goals.”
The rule by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services allows a private entity, the Actuarial Standards Board, to determine that Medicaid insurance rates must include a Health Insurance Providers Fee, which is functionally an unconstitutional tax on the states in order to fund the insolvent Obamacare mandate. This effectively robs the tax coffers of the citizens of Texas. The unwarranted tax on the citizens of Texas was $84 million in 2013, and around $120 million a year since.
This tax is unconstitutional for four reasons:
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that state officials “clearly understand” what conditions the State is agreeing to when accepting federal funds. Yet, the Obamacare legislation is completely silent as to whether state taxpayers must pony up to pay for Obamacare or risk losing necessary Medicaid and CHIP funds. The federal government contrived this new scheme, and the states were recently required to pay.
  • It represents coercion, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was not allowed in the first Obamacare decision,NFIB v. Sebelius. In that ruling, the Supreme Court held that threatening a percentage of a state’s budget unless it agreed to expand Medicaid was coercion. This same funding is at risk again if states refuse to pay the tax.
  • It delegated the duties of Congress to a private entity, which violates the delegation doctrine prohibiting private entities from exercising legislative authority.
  • The new regulation represents a tax on the states, so it violates the constitutional doctrine prohibiting the taxation of a sovereign state.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: "Down the Rabbit Hole" by Holly Madison

"There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death."
Proverbs 14:12

We have to begin this review with a personal confession: Before we became a Christian, in the era when we were still chasing women, this author IDOLIZED Hugh Hefner.  The idea of having a rotating harem over the course of several decades was one to which we aspired.  This was in the era of The Girls Next Door, which was one of our favorite television shows at the time.

Given this background, we DEVOURED Holly Madison's recent release Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.  Madison, who was Hef's primary 'girlfriend' for seven years and starred with him on the television show, confesses the reality behind the Playboy image.  We've covered some of this before, but Hugh Hefner's day-to-day existence seems wretchedly awful.

While we've been familiar with this topic for several years, one thing we learned from Madison's book is that Hefner doesn't even own the Playboy Mansion: "Playboy Enterprises (a public company at the time) owned the mansion.  Not Hef.  In order to live there, he had to pay a monthly rent on every room he and his girlfriends occupied.  People may find it surprising that Hugh Hefner is nothing more than a tenant renting his room at the mansion, but that's exactly how it is" (136).  Furthermore, Hefner has "spent $2 million on girlfriends and trips the past few years" (125).

Another miserable aspect of life at the mansion is the physical condition of the property.  Madison describes the mansion guesthouse as: "Grandma's attic meets rent-by-the-hour motel" (51).  In a state of extended disrepair, the mansion "[F]or being a super upscale home, it wasn't without its downscale touches.  One of the most memorable was the tray of Johnson's Baby Oil, Vaseline, and Kleenex that was in the bathroom, in the grotto, and at the tennis courts and the pool bar.  I still don't know whether to be disgusted or amused by those trays" (54).  Even worse, the facility is covered by animal waste of both the liquid and solid variety.  When Madison was organizing Hef's film collection, "[I]t was particularly unplesant when I'd unearth a tape and realize it was coated in years-old dog urine" (108).

Hefner's sexual 'escapades' are a sensitive topic.  While we don't want to get into too much detail, we do want to mention them because even this aspect of Hefner's existence is pathetically unappealing.  While Madison describes it in far more detail than we will, suffice to say that on Wednesday and Friday nights Hefner hops himself up on Viagra and spends about 30 seconds with every girl unfortunate enough to be in the bedroom before finishing himself off in the corner.  As Madison explains, "[E]very red-blooded American male has no doubt fantasized about what went on in Hugh Hefner's bedroom, with his harem of blonde bombshells.  The answer?  Not a whole lot" (39).

On Madison's first night clubbing with Hefner he offered her a Quaalude with the sales pitch: "[U]sually I don't approve of drugs, but you know, in the '70's they used to call these pills 'thigh openers" (36).  Years later, during the film organizing project described above, she discovered a pornographic film entitled "Girl and Dog" (108).  During her early years at the Mansion, there were girls smoking copious amounts of meth (90).  While none of the Girls Next Door cast members participated, one of Hefner's earlier 'girlfriends' helped run a prostitution ring out of the mansion (92).  Fortunately for Madison, the final third of the book details how her life improved once she belatedly left the mansion.

This is a book that every teenager and youth pastor in America needs to read.  Hugh Hefner was an early and major pusher of Alfred Kinsey's catastrophic junk 'science.'  The allegedly carefree Playboy image lies at the core of the catastrophe otherwise known as the sexual revolution.  To learn the truth of Hugh Hefner's squalid existence is to learn that reality can never match the image.  This book re-enforces the reality that, always and inevitably, unhealthy behavior leads to bad consequences.  In writing Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, Holly Madison has done a national service.  While this book is definitely outside some people's comfort zones, it's well worth the read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

C3's OBSCENE #ACL Sweetheart Deal

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

We'd heard in the past about C3 productions getting sweetheart deals for various events in Central Austin, but the details in this morning's Statesman are ASTONISHING:
As far as I could tell from being a short lady in the cheap seats, the “tunnel” was actually part of a passageway for holders the Platinum viewing pass. The retail price of the Platinum pass was $3,600. It’s just one of the many upper-tier packages that the ACL Festival offers for people both willing and able to pay for increased amenities that don’t come with a plain-ole $250, three-day ACL admission wristband.

It seems that every year more and more of the prime shady spaces of Zilker Park are taken for even more exclusive and restricted uses of the Austin City Limits festival. Looking at this division of the ACL audience, I couldn’t help feeling that as an Austin resident, that I’d been stolen from and was having my pilfered goods sold back to me! Even more brazenly, I was being offered better temporary use of my purloined goods if I agreed to pay more money to the corporate entity holding them.

According to research by the American-Statesman: “The city this year is charging C3 Presents $97,720 for the use of Zilker Park and other expenses. The city also gets a cut of each ticket sold.” That’s chump change for an organization that had gross sales of more than $124 million in 2013, according to Billboard.

In return, the Austin-based C3 Presents gets exclusive use of Zilker Park for two weekends a year, plus the time it takes to set up and tear down the festival.

In comparison, as part of a multiyear contract, C3 Presents pays $1.5 million each year for the use of Grant Park in Chicago, money that’s paid even if the Lollapalooza music festival doesn’t happen!

I acknowledge that C3 Presents has contributed more than $10 million since the festival started in 2002 to improve Austin’s parks, as well as putting $5 million dollars towards the Auditorium Shores renovation project. Spread out over a decade, this still isn’t that much money in the high-dollar corporate world. Last year, Billboard reported that the total gross of the 2014 ACL festival was more than $38 million.

It’s ridiculous that the residents of Austin, some of whom are greatly inconvenienced by the festival, get so little in return for giving up use of prime parkland for more than a month. Among the problems the festival brings: neighborhoods near the park have to deal with traffic and noise, traffic around the festival location is much worse during the event, and casual chats with some downtown restaurants over the last few days have revealed that more than one establishment is unusually slow during ACL because their regular patrons don’t show up.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: This is grotesque.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why doesn't Lamar Smith want to debate?!?

"Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.?
Jeremiah 23:24

Fascinating tidbit from Matt McCall's campaign update:
Two months ago, I was invited to a debate with Lamar Smith, Michael J. Smith, and John Murphy, the contenders for the Congressional seat for CD 21.  I immediately accepted.  The invitation came from the Kendall County Tea Party Patriots, run by Earl Smith.  The debate is scheduled for November 9.  November 9 was chosen because that week Congress is out of session and Lamar Smith is in the district.
Earl Smith informed me that he had been contacting Lamar Smith’s office continually for the last two months, trying to get a response regarding the debate, without success.  Earl was finally able to ask Lamar about it in person at a public forum last Tuesday.  Lamar said it was the first he’d heard about it and that he would get back with Earl by the end of the evening.  He did not.
On Wednesday, an invitation went out by email for a private reception at a supporter’s home for Lamar Smith---scheduled for the evening of November 9. 
 Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: This wreaks of Dewhurst's 2012 strategy in the U.S. Senate race, perhaps the time has come to break out the duck costume.

Fisher's unintentionally HUGE revelation about Joe Straus

"He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Proverbs 13:20

In an article about the various controversies surrounding campus carry at UT, we learn something interesting about the inner workings of the Texas House:
Pro- and anti-gun factions are fighting over whether Texas' new campus carry law allows school leaders to enact gun bans in classrooms, dorms and other buildings. With both sides saying they're right, it might take a court case to determine the real winner.


"The intent was that licensed concealed handgun license carriers be allowed to carry their concealed weapons into the classroom," bill sponsor Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, said last week. "We're not going to allow the regents or the students or professors to determine that you're not allowed to carry a weapon... The Legislature won't tolerate that."

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, disagrees.

"There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether or not you can prohibit guns on campus inside a classroom, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you can," said Martinez-Fischer, a member of the House committee that drafted the compromise language. "I respect Allen Fletcher, but even Allen knows he wasn't in the room when the compromise language was struck."

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Remember, Speaker makes appointments to conference committees.

Also, remember, Trey Martinez Ferdinand Frank Fisher is this guy:

Bottom Line: What the HECK was Trey Martinez Ferdinand Frank Fisher doing on the conference committee for a major second amendment bill when the primary author of the bill wasn't even allowed in the room?!?

Monday, October 19, 2015

2015 Texas Constitutional Amendments Conservative/Libertarian Guide

"Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established."
Proverbs 16:3

Early voting began today for seven state of Texas Constitutional Amendments and various local questions around the state, Cahnman's Musings endorses the following positions:

State of Texas Constitutional Amendments:
  • Prop. 1 -- FOR -- While the 84th legislature didn't do much to reign in property taxes, it did do this.  Prop 1 would increase the homestead exemption for school district taxes from $15,000 to $25,000.  It's not much, but it does move in the right direction.
  • Prop. 2 -- NEUTRAL -- Prop 2 illustrates the peril of trying to carve out favorable tax treatment for certain groups, even groups we like.  In 2011, the legislature created (and the voters passed) an exemption from property taxes for the surviving spouses of 100% disabled combat veterans.  Unfortunately, the 2011 amendment included language that limited that benefit to veterans who died after 2010.  Prop. 2 would remove the 'after 2010' proviso.

    On the one hand, this epitomizes what happens every time you try to get cute with the tax code; on the other hand, the 2011 exemption isn't going anywhere, so it makes sense to remove the arbitrary cut off date.

    Flip a coin.
  • Prop. 3 -- FOR -- Prop 3 would remove the requirement that statewide officeholders (except the Governor) reside in Austin; in a world with modern information technology, we see no need to require statewide officials to reside in Austin.
  • Prop. 4 -- AGAINST -- When in doubt, vote no; we can't put our finger on it, but something about this proposition STINKS.  Prop. 4 would allow "charitable foundations" of professional sports teams to conduct "charitable raffles" for the benefit of said foundations.  To be honest, this just wreaks of the type of insider based cronyism that runs rampant at the capitol, the fact that Charlie Geren is the primary author of the amendment doesn't increase our confidence.
  • Prop. 5 -- FOR -- [UPDATED] Prop. 5 would allow small counties to maintain roads constructed with private funds if doing so makes sense locally.  Living in Austin, this website has no desire how to instruct local entities to maintain roads we'll never see. We can find no reason why letting local counties make this decision for themselves would be considered objectionable.
    • Correction: This is what we originally wrote for Prop. 5.  Apparently, we got the intent of the amendment backwards.  We apologize, though either way we see it as a matter of local control.
  • Prop. 6 -- FOR -- Prop. 6 would add another level of protection should anti-Second Amendment forces or hardcore environmentalists come after Texas.  In a sane world, the second amendment would be all the protection we need.  Of course, we don't live in a sane world.

    While we commend the 84th Texas legislature for taking this proactive action on the Second Amendment, we wish they'd extended similar courtesy on issues related to religious liberty and the First Amendment.
  • Prop. 7 -- NEUTRAL -- Prop. 7 would take a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax and dedicate it to transportation funding.  Transportation funding in Texas can best be characterized as robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Prop 7 would rob John to pay Peter.

    The fundamental problem with transportation funding in Texas is that 25% of the gas tax is diverted to education.  Prop. 7 does NOTHING to fix that.  It just creates yet another "dedicated" account.

    And that's before we get into the waste and bloat at TxDOT that the legislature hasn't lifted a finger to change.

    On the other hand, we have legitimate transportation needs, and Prop. 7 might be the best we can do given political reality.

    Once again...flip a coin.
Noteworthy Local Issues:
  • City of Pflugerville Prop. 1 -- AGAINST -- We haven't had a ton of time to look into this one, but multiple sources we trust inform us that this plan to float $10 million to build an animal shelter is a corrupt boondoggle.
  • TRAVIS COUNTY Prop. 1 -- AGAINST  -- And this is the Travis County Courthouse.  It doesn't take a genius to know where we stand on this one.  Travis County is claiming this thing will cost $287 MILLION, though somewhere between $400 and 600 MILLION is probably where the final price tag will end up once you factor in interest and cost overruns.  The current proposal doesn't have enough parking.  It adds more cars to the rush hour bottleneck.  Moving the location to East Austin would save between 25 and 50% of the cost.  Everyone can oppose this thing for their own reason, but Travis County has said the only way they will consider a better alternative is if the current proposal fails.

Bottom Line: The State of Texas constitutional amendments are relatively inoffensive, but we wouldn't trust anything any local government is doing in this type of low turnout election.  Early voting began today and runs through next Friday, election day proper is Tuesday, Nov. 3.  These low turnout elections are when your vote REALLY counts; get informed about what's on your personal LOCAL ballot and go vote!!!