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TexasTowelie's Journal
TexasTowelie's Journal
July 1, 2014

Washington County approves Economic Development Program for Tempur-Sealy

Additions to the Tempur-Sealy plant in Brenham gained further traction this morning after the Washington County Commissioners Court approved an Economic Development Program, featuring a grant for the mattress company if they meet certain requirements.

In the new program, Tempur-Sealy would receive a grant after five years if they added 75 more workers and kept the current workforce at Tempur-Sealy, while paying the new workers a minimum of $36,500 per year, as well as make a half-million dollar investment in the plant.

Commissioner Kirk Hanath of Precinct Three was the lone vote against the program, saying that he feels it’s almost expected of governments to hand funds to businesses.

Luther Hueske, commissioner of Precinct Two, said that he understood Hanath’s point, but that without this plan available, it could lead to Tempur-Sealy moving and removing an additional 100-plus workers and taxpayers.

More at http://www.brenhambanner.com/news/washington-county-approves-economic-development-program/article_da19f521-a5a1-5dc2-bbf4-1c8d248a6e44.html . (subscription required)

[font color=green]Fairly decent jobs that don't require much education in a rural area. However, the article fails to mention the amount of the grant.[/font]

July 1, 2014

Man charged with making threats against KLBJ staff

Austin police on Tuesday charged a man with a felony after being alerted to Facebook messages they said threatened the staff of radio station KLBJ-FM, including morning show host Dale Dudley from the morning show Dudley and Bob.

Police charged Scott Jeremy Schuster, 38, with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Schuster has not been arrested, police said.

He is accused of sending several threatening messages to KLBJ’s official Facebook account, an arrest affidavit said.

KLBJ staff first came into contact with Schuster on June 10 after he made derogatory comments about a woman who had recently won the station’s “Rock Girl” contest, the affidavit said.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/man-charged-with-making-threats-against-klbj-staff/ngXXc/ .

July 1, 2014

Does anybody recall that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act was Unconstitutional?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-141, 107 Stat. 1488 (November 16, 1993), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb through 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-4 (also known as RFRA), is a 1993 United States federal law aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of their religion. The bill was introduced by Howard McKeon of California and Dean Gallo of New Jersey on March 11, 1993.[1] The bill was passed by a unanimous U.S. House and a near unanimous U.S. Senate with three dissenting votes[2] and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It was held unconstitutional as applied to the states in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision in 1997, which ruled that the RFRA is not a proper exercise of Congress's enforcement power. But it continues to be applied to the federal government, for instance in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, because Congress has broad authority to carve out exemptions from federal laws and regulations that it itself has authorized. In response to City of Boerne v. Flores, some individual states passed State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that apply to state governments and local municipalities.


July 1, 2014

SCOTUS, Hobby Lobby and Canned Worms

Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt

By Carol Morgan

The SCOTUS/Hobby Lobby decision has given me a severe headache. Just like Citizens United or McCutcheon, today’s decision opens up a Pandora’s box of enormous proportions that can never be contained or controlled again.

This is becoming a habit with the Roberts Court.

Lawmakers, corporations, SCOTUS and world leaders…all of us, each of us…is a hapless victim to the illusion of control.

Control? The reality is this: We have none at all. For every action, there’s an effect; perhaps it comes sooner than later. And some of it, we can’t possibly predict or foresee at the time when a law is created or a strategy planned. Perhaps, the poet, Robert Burns, recognized man’s illusion of control long ago: “The best laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry.”

In America’s case, it’s more like “run amok”. We keep making very bad decisions with an eye toward solving the immediate, rather than the long term.

It’s called “unintended consequences”; effects we cannot see, results we cannot predict. It’s like the old Buddhist tale of the woodcutter who goes through a series of life events, only to remark, “Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, who would know? Only time will tell.”

Today’s court decision is reminiscent of Rembrandt’s painting, Belshazzar’s Feast; the handwriting’s on the wall and it’s blinding glare illuminates the fear of those in attendance at the banquet table.

So many of contemporary conflicts and problems are the painful birth of our past actions, a quick and dirty, knee jerk reaction to solve a problem without thinking about the long term consequences; future results, cause and effect, karmic consequences--it doesn't matter the label, it comes from something as simple as not thinking things through or believing in the fallacy of the absolute and constant, the comforting myth that nothing will change. It's the illusion of control that we, as humans, believe we can exercise over an uncontrollable and constantly evolving universe.

To fully understand the concept of unintended consequences, look no further than Sociologist Robert Merton (1910-2003) who founded the sociology of science and coined the terms we use with great regularity; “role-model”, “self-fulfilling prophecy”, and “unintended consequences”.

Robert Merton was a genius. Every single lawmaker and world leader needs to read and reread his 1936 sociological paper: "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action".

Merton believed that all social action has the possibility for three outcomes:

1. An intended solution that creates new and additional problems beyond the original problem.

2. An intended solution that creates an additional lucky benefit, outside and unrelated to the original problem.

3. An intended solution that creates a perverse effect to the originally intended effect.

Right now, we are reaping the unintended consequences of the actions, policies and legislation of the world leaders, lawmakers, corporations, and individuals in our past, some dating all the way back to the Industrial Revolution. Some specific examples:

1. This year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I which was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”, but in reality, the “Great War” merely led to new and ingenious methods of destroying each other, which led to other wars, which led to the redrawing of country borders which led to other wars, which led to the atomic bomb to stop the war which led to the Cold War, which led to Vietnam, et nauseam…as Winston Churchill remarked in hindsight, “We killed the wrong pig.”(Refer to Merton’s #1)

2. When we divided countries to stop wars and genocides, religious conflicts, to move away from colonialism or nation-building; we created new problems. We now see the bitter harvest of those strategies in Sudan versus South Sudan, Israel versus Palestine, Pakistan versus India, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. (See Merton’s #3)

3. Unintended consequences plays out closer to home in Texas. The Tea Party Conservatives hoped to make it harder for women to obtain abortions by passing a dubious women’s health law that, in reality, had nothing to do with women’s health at all. Those strategies have resulted in a new Texas phenomenon: Do It Yourself Abortions. Record numbers of women are seeking out the ulcer medication misoprostol (which induces an abortion in the early months of pregnancy) at flea markets and pharmacies skirting the border between Texas and Mexico. (See Merton’s #1 and #2)

The SCOTUS created more unintended future consequences today.

I shudder to think of the future possibilities emerging from today’s Hobby Lobby decision. Will religious preferences dictate our career possibilities and potential future employment? Will job seekers limit their employment search to only those employers who mirror their own religious and political philosophies? Could an Islamic employer force a Christian employee to abstain from eating or drinking at work during Ramadan? Could a Jehovah Witness employer eschew blood products and transfusions as a part of their group health plan?

Where does it end? Today’s decision demolishes many of the religious and personal boundaries that we took for granted and replaces them with ones that have the inherent potential to be more threatening and dangerous.

I certainly hope SCOTUS finds the can of worms they’ve opened up today to be a very tasty meal. They’re going to be eating it for a long time.

And so will we.


Posted with permission granted to present Ms. Morgan's blog in its entirety.
July 1, 2014

The $400 Million in I-35 Fixes That Could Be Bundled With Urban Rail in Austin

Much attention has been placed on Austin City Council’s unanimous vote to endorse an urban rail plan for Austin. But $400 million of a proposed transportation bond that could reach voters in November is for road improvements as well.

Here's a breakdown of spending proposals, culled from the 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan:

The largest chunk of the approved road package is $120 million to improve downtown access from I-35, with new access ramps and separate lanes for local and pass-through traffic. This portion would also cover improvements to an interchange at Riverside Drive.

The next biggest piece is $90 million of proposed spending would replace the overpasses at Oltorf, Stassney and William Cannon, relocating interstate lanes, adding U-turn lanes, and further safety improvements.

More at http://kut.org/post/400-million-i-35-fixes-could-be-bundled-urban-rail .

July 1, 2014

The Hightower Report: Cheney swings at Obama but hits himself

President Obama has been hit with a firestorm of vitriolic criticism from Republican opportunists hoping to score political points by blaming him for the latest upheaval in Iraq. So I was pleased when, finally, one Republican spoke out loudly to deflect those partisan attacks.

Thank you, Dick Cheney. Yes, he's back! The snarling, self-righteous, shameless old hypocrite wrote a nasty op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that was meant to skewer Obama on the Iraq issue, but it backfired! One, Cheney's attack was so vitriolic and personal – even accusing Obama of betrayal and being "a fool" – that it revealed just how mean and malignantly-partisan Cheney is. More significantly, though, his venomous rant reminded everyone that – wait a minute – it wasn't Obama who made a ghastly mess of Iraq – it was Cheney and his imperious regime of neo-con chicken-hawks!

The punch line in his op-ed was a haymaker intended to floor Obama: "Rarely has a US president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many." But – whammo! – it was such a wild swing that instead of socking Obama, Cheney's roundhouse punch went full-circle and smashed into his own glass jaw. Even Fox News, which had been a wildly enthusiastic backer of Cheney's war, roasted him over that line. Fox interviewer Megyn Kelly put it to him like this: "Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir. You said there was no doubt Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the Iraq insurgency was in the last throes back in 2005… What do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?"

Precisely, right. So thank you again, Dick Cheney, for taking the heat off of Obama and putting right were it belongs.


July 1, 2014

Johnny Manziel Responds To Criticism By Partying With Justin Bieber


If you're a defiant 21 year old who doesn't really like rules, parameters, and being told what to do.... oh, and you have ungodly amounts of access, cash, and free time, what's the biggest figurative middle finger that you can flip at all of your authority figures?


Johnny Manziel partied with Justin Bieber, the cops were reportedly called http://t.co/mH12daXBn6 pic.twitter.com/ULABjrzHP3
— Eye on Football (@EyeOnNFL) July 1, 2014

If staying off the grid in Cleveland was the equivalent of a truce, then partying at Bieber's house with Floyd Mayweather (a party where the cops were called in twice) is essentially a declaration of war.

In other (possibly related) news, the Browns have reportedly begun contract extension talks with incumbent starting quarterback Brian Hoyer.....

The entire story is at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2014/07/johnny_manziel_responds_to_criticism_by_partying_with_justin_bieber.php?page=2 .

[font color=green]Prediction: This over-entitled turd is going to get puliverized if he ever gets on the football field.[/font]
July 1, 2014

Texas Democrats United and Ready After Successful Convention

I didn’t pay very much attention to the Texas Democratic Party Convention in Dallas this past week. But from what I did see it appeared the convention went very well. Via Kuff, Convention Coverage.

I’m not up in Dallas, though several of my blogging colleagues are. So far the reports I’ve heard are positive – lots of energy and excitement. One person even compared it to 2008, which is music to the ear. Obviously, the folks who take the time to go to a party convention aren’t the ones that need to be inspired to go vote, but they are the ones that will be doing a lot of the work to inspire others, so the more enthusiastic they are, the better.

As I said on Friday, the best thing you can do is work to help get the message out and get the voters to the polls. The next best thing you can do is pitch in financially. Democrats have done phenomenally well in grassroots small-dollar fundraising of late, which is both great and necessary since the other guys have a lot more megalomaniac billionaires on their side.

One of the most expected, and glaring, differences between Democrats and the GOP to come out of the convention was the differences in the party platforms. Huge differences on the issues of immigration, LGBT rights, and women’s issues($). It summarizes some of the other differences very well.

Whatever else, the two documents offer a clear sense of where each party’s head is at and the stark ideological differences between what is now a very liberal Democratic Party and a very conservative Republican Party in Texas.

The Democrats call for investing more in education. The Republicans call for “reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.”

Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Democrats want to keep it and go beyond it to “Medicare for all.”

Republicans want to reverse Roe v. Wade and enact a constitutional amendment protecting the rights of the unborn. Democrats say the decision about an abortion should be left to a woman, her family, her physician, her conscience and her God without political interference.

Republicans want to privatize Social Security. Democrats don’t.

Republicans want to repeal the Voting Rights Act. Democrats want to restore the act’s section that required Texas to get federal approval before making changes in voting laws.

Republicans want to end in-state tuition for what they called “illegal immigrants.” Democrats want to keep it, and e beneficiaries “Texas undocumented students.”

More at http://eyeonwilliamson.org/?p=13860 .
July 1, 2014

A Carrollton Worker's Boss Punched and Stun-Gunned Him in the Junk, Lawsuit Claims

Total Building Maintenance, Inc., in Carrollton, is in the business of cleanliness. For its corporate clients, it cleans carpets and washes windows, among other janitorial duties. But if a new lawsuit filed recently is to be believed, the company, especially its chief operations officer, Neil Chopra, has been engaged in some less-than-clean activities.

In mid-2011, a man named Christopher Key started working for the cleaning company. He moved up its ranks quickly. After only a few months, he was promoted, and Chopra became his immediate supervisor. Around the same time as his promotion, however, Key's boss hit him for the first time, he claims in the lawsuit.

One day, Key claims, Chopra punched him in the testicles. He fell to the floor. Stop it, he told Chopra, who responded strangely. He told the man he had just punched that he was only joking, only playing around, Key claims.

Every Friday afternoon, Chopra held meetings that employees were required to attend. After the meetings wrapped up, Chopra would start punching, according to the lawsuit. And it wasn't just Key who got the shaft. He observed other employees receiving the same treatment, he claims.

The continuation of this story gets even worse at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/07/man_claims_his_male_boss_sexually_assaulted_him_by_hitting_him_in_the_testicles_repeatedly.php .

[font color=green]If this story is verified, I'd love to see a huge judgment put this employer out of business.[/font]

July 1, 2014

Fort Worth Olympian's Lawsuit Against U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Moves to Federal Court

A defamation lawsuit filed against anti-doping authorities and United States track and field star Tyson Gay is likely on the move after the United States Anti-Doping Agency asked that the case be moved from a state district court in Tarrant County court to federal court.

Jon Drummond, a Fort Worth resident and former Olympic champion, trained Gray from 2007 until just after the 2012 London Olympics, often in Fort Worth. Gay tested positive for a product containing an anabolic steroid in July 2013. His positive test led to a stripping of all competition results from July 15, 2012 -- the first time Gay said he used the substance -- forward, including the silver medal he won as part of the United States' 4X100-meter relay team. Gay was banned from competition for one rather than the maximum two-year penalty because he cooperated with the USADA.

Drummond claims that in the process of that cooperation Gay blamed him for his positive test. Gay, Drummond says, falsely told doping authorities that his coach hooked him up with and vouched for Dr. Clayton Gibson, an Atlanta chiropractor.

Gibson provided Gay with a number of creams and other substances which were labeled as containing banned ingredients, Drummond says. Gibson assured both Drummond and Gay that the medicines did not contain banned substances -- and were, in fact, all natural -- but were just labeled that way so less experienced athletes would understand their intended effects.


Update: Unfair Park has received a comment from the USADA. "We view this lawsuit as a misguided attempt to undermine the established arbitration process agreed to by the entire Olympic movement that is in place to protect the rights of all clean athletes and uphold the integrity of sport," Senior Communications Manager Annie Skinner says.

The entire story is at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/07/fort_worth_olympians_lawsuit_against_us_anti-doping_agency_moves_to_federal_court.php .

Related Thread:
Drummond sues Tyson Gay and the USADA


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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 110,319

About TexasTowelie

Retired/disabled middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

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