Friday, July 31, 2015

Meet the latest Central Texas Rail Boondoggle


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

Agenda 21 on steroids AND a multi-billion pricetag...what's not to love?!?
A national transportation expert calls the proposed Lone Star Rail project between Austin and San Antonio a bust for taxpayers.

Carrying an initial price tag of $2 billion to $3 billion, the commuter line would take over existing Union Pacific tracks near Interstate 35 and shift freight onto new rails to the east.

“This is how absurd governments can be when it comes to rail,” said Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the free-market Cato Institute.

“Union Pacific bought 8,000 miles of Southern Pacific tracks for $3 billion. To spend $3 billion for one short line is not in the realm of possibility,” he told Watchdog.org in an interview.

Lone Star Rail supporters are banking on matching money from Washington, and since the federal New Starts program no longer requires projects to prove “operating efficiencies,” LSTAR remains bureaucratically viable.

....

O’Toole likens policymakers’ fixation with rail projects to the continued installation of streetcars in 1915, when automobiles were starting to hit the roads en masse.

“Technological change will overcome congestion,” he said, predicting the evolving generation of new cars could triple the capacity of existing roads, including I-35.

“Once 25 percent of cars have adaptive cruise control, roughly half of all congestion will go away,” O’Toole forecast.

Meantime, the Cato expert maintained no rail system in America can move more people than a two-lane freeway.

Undaunted, the government-run Lone Star Rail District is working with municipalities to form transportation infrastructure zones. Property tax increases within the zones would go toward train operations and maintenance. Sales tax increases are also being considered.
Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Austin City Council reconsidering BBQ regulation MONDAY!!!


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7

We were almost finished writing a post about the irresponsible reporting surrounding Austin's attempts to regulate BBQ smoke we'd previously thought was dead.

As we were wrapping up, we touched base with a council member to inquire if we could use a text message that person had sent us earlier this week.

The council member informed this website that the ordinance wasn't actually dead.

Apparently, the proposed ordinance was referred to two committees.  The first committee killed it back in May.  The Health and Human services committee, however, will hear the proposed ordinance on Monday:

4.
Fortunately Ellen Troxclair, who voted against the measure in April, is on the committee.

The hearing starts at 4pm.

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Austin City Council Health and Human Services Committee.
Ora Houston, Chair
(512) 978-2101

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Texas Senate's Planned Parenthood organ harvesting hearing


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Abortion is always a difficult issue to discuss; even by the standards of the issue, however, today's Texas Senate hearing about organ harvesting and the recently released Planned Parenthood videos was astonishing.

Attorney General Paxton testified first.  For an hour, he outlined what his office's recently launched investigation has uncovered.  Investigators from the Texas Attorney General's office recently toured the "P.O.C." room at a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston.  'P.O.C' stands for 'product of conception'; Planned Parenthood couldn't even refer to their 'medical specimens' as children (Note: Abby Johnson later testified that when she worked at Planned Parenthood they would joke about calling it the 'pieces of children' room.).  Inside the 'P.O.C.' room, Planned Parenthood would store the remains of pre-born children in jars until they were ready to be transported for 'disposal.'  General Paxton testified that this particular facility 'discards' 260 pounds of 'medical waste' per week.

Following the testimony of several bureaucrats from state agencies, John Seago spoke on behalf of Texas Right to Life.  He explained how the raw footage from the Planned Parenthood sting mentions three facilities in Texas.  The Houston facility previously discussed by General Paxton was one of their largest "research" facilities in the country.  Seago also detailed how, despite improvements, Planned Parenthood was still eligible to collect subsidies from Texas taxpayers.  Seago restated Texas Right to Life's categorical opposition to any sort of 'medical research' on the carcasses of aborted children.

Abby Johnson followed Texas Right to Life.  She disputed the testimony one of the bureaucrats.  Whereas the bureaucrat testified that State inspections of abortion facilities are unannounced, Johnson said that when she worked at Planned Parenthood her facility was inspected during the same week of November every year.  This allowed the facility to scrub its records in anticipation of a visit from the state.  Johnson's testimony caused several D's to throw a tantrum over 'accusing a state employee of committing perjury.'  Of course, Johnson never accused the bureaucrat of lying, just being mistaken.  Upon being called to testify a second time, the bureaucrat admitted that she was discussing protocols as they exist on paper, not how they're carried out in real life.

Carol Everett spoke after Johnson.  Her testimony largely mirrored Texas Right to Life and Johnson.  The most notable part came when she discussed a medical procedure her mother had recently undergone.  As part of the procedure, the doctor recommended using placenta.  Everett was horrified.  As part of the discussion, the doctor explained that 'tissue' obtained via abortion was useless for either medical research or treatment because abortions rarely take place in sanitary conditions.

:This author found Johnson's and Everett's the most eye-opening.  The two former abortion industry workers discussed the number abortions performed on a daily basis.  Johnson said a Houston clinic in which she worked had a DAILY quota of 75 abortions, which extrapolates to 450 per week and 1800 per month.  Everett said she performed oversaw 35,000 abortions (spread among several clinics) over six years in the industry, which translates to approximately 20 per day.  That's not a medical procedure. , That's not "safe legal and rare."  That's genocide.

Finally, Cahnman's Musings would like to commend Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).  Visibly shaken by what she was hearing, Kolkhorst nonetheless managed to ask probing questions that cut to the heart of the matter.  Chairman Charles Schwertner (R - Georgetown) also deserves credit for running a diligent, focused, hearing.  On the other hand, Senators Sylvia Garcia (D - Houston), Jose Rodriguez (D - El Paso), and Carlos Uresti (D - San Antonio) all admitted they hadn't watched the videos.  Senator Craig Estes (R - Whichita Falls) failed to show up at the hearing at all.

Planned Parenthood refused to participate in today's hearing, though their lawyer eventually showed up to deliver written testimony.

It's hard to imagine that pre-born children are being dismembered for profit here in Texas.  Unfortunately, today's hearing made clear that that's exactly what's happening.  This must stop.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Straus recycles Bush talking points


"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Last week, as we're sure you're aware, Joe Straus got a strong primary challenge.  We'll have plenty to say in the coming weeks.  For now, however, we wanted to highlight Straus' response:
"The people of District 121 know Joe Straus and continue to re-elect him because he is an effective leader who consistently delivers conservative results," Straus spokesman Jason Embry said in a statement Friday. 

Gee, where have we heard that before?!?
With the long march to November under way, Gov. George W. Bush is arguing that his record in Texas proves he is best suited to bring reform to Washington. He has even coined a campaign slogan: ''A Reformer With Results.''
It isn't a secret that Straus is a raging Bush crony, but the degree to which they use identical campaign rhetoric is still revealing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When Straus' House killed "Strategic Fiscal Reviews"


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

SB 53, by Jane Nelson, was a bill captioned: "relating to strategic fiscal reviews of state agencies and programs."

The purpose of the bill was to collect more information for legislators about state agencies going through the sunset process; among other things, it would require identifying statutory authority for each activity in which the relevant agency engages.

The bill passed the Texas Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Notably, every Democrat voted for the measure.  Kelly Hancock was the lone dissenting vote.

On May 4th, Joe Straus referred SB 53 to the House Appropriations committee.  Under chairman John Otto, the bill stalled.  Strategic Fiscal Reviews were dead in committee.

No one denies that the 84th #TXLEGE produced a "reasonably not crappy" two year budget, but the fate of SB 53 illustrates (again) how Team Straus went out of their way to kill any sort of structural fiscal reform.

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Read the full bill below:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meet the AWFUL Higher Ed Bill the 84th #TXLEGE Passed


"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

SB 24, aka. the "Brainwash University Regents" bill:



Bottom Line: On a practical level, this law probably won't have much impact, but it's still VERY revealing that they're so afraid of transparency that they're going to force future regents to sit through mandatory brainwashing sessions.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Texas Supreme Court SMACKS Down Annise Parker


"Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly."
Psalm 3:7

Fantastic news, from Texas Values:
Texas Supreme Court Stops Houston LGBT Ordinance, Must be Repealed or Placed on November Ballot

Today, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Houston City Council must stop enforcement of a controversial anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, and the City must either repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot for vote by the people for the November 2015 election. Earlier this year, a state court held a trial on these issues of basic voting rights of one million Houston registered voters, including the 55,000 citizens who signed the No UNequal Rights referendum. The trial court decision resulted in a ruling that only 16,684 signatures were valid, 600 signatures short of the needed 17,269 for the law to be repealed or placed on the ballot. Jared Woodfill is the lead plaintiff, and a board member for Texas Values Action, and he sought to overturn this trial court ruling by filing a request directly with the Texas Supreme Court.

Texas Values Action President Jonathan Saenz released the following statement:

“This is a total victory for the people of Houston, for free speech, and a major loss for Mayor Parker and LGBT advocates who fought so hard to silence the people’s voice. We are thrilled that the rogue and dictator style tactics of lesbian Mayor Annise Parker and her crew have been stopped by the rule of law and the persistence of faith-based leaders in Houston. The Texas Supreme Court got it right on this one."

Last year, Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council passed this radical anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, despite overwhelming opposition. The ordinance allows men to go into women’s restrooms, forces business owners to violate their religious convictions, and increases government interference in the private sector. The city secretary reported there were more than enough signatures collected to put the ordinance to a referendum, but Mayor Parker and the City Attorney refused to recognize the signatures. Read more.