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Texas GOP Leadership Passes Anti-Constitutional Convention Resolution

Photo: The New American 

The Texas GOP’s State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) approved an anti-constitutional convention resolution at their December meeting. The resolution said in part:

WHEREAS, Any convention called under the authority of Article V of the U.S. Constitution to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution will be a “Constitutional Convention” regardless of any title or labels attached to it, such as Constitutional Convention, Con-Con, Compact for America, Convention of the States, or any other label;

The resolution went on to say:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we call upon the 84th Legislature to rescind any and all existing “calls for a Constitutional Convention”;

This resolution addressed the contradictory planks that are currently in the 2014 State Republican Party Platform. The current party platform says:

Constitutional Convention — We strongly oppose any constitutional convention to rewrite the United States Constitution. We encourage the Texas Legislature to rescind its 1977 call for such a convention. We call upon other states to rescind their votes for such a convention.

Article V Convention — Under no circumstances shall the Bill of Rights, the first 10 constitutional amendments, be changed in any manner. We urge the Texas State Legislators to take the lead in calling for an Article V Amending Convention of States, for the specific purpose of reigning in the power of the federal government. Any proposed amendments must be ratified by ¾ of the states to take effect.

This contradiction was reported in a previous article in The New American online.

The platform plank advocating for an Article V Convention of the States (shown above) was added by the Committee on Platform and Resolutions in the days just prior to the official convening of Republican Party of Texas State Convention in June.

Some delegates, led by members of The John Birch Society and Eagle Forum, attempted to remove the Article V Convention of States plank by submitting an amendment to the party platform during the general session. There were approximately 200 proposed amendments filed, and only five made it to the floor before the delegates, noticeably frustrated by numerous procedural technicalities, passed a motion to adjourn without considering the vast majority of proposed amendments, including the one to remove the Convention of States plank.

Advocates of an Article V Convention of the States are actively lobbying the Texas Legislature to pass legislation calling for an Article V Convention of the States when the next legislative session convenes in January. They contend that an Article V Convention of the States would not be a constitutional convention. The U.S. Constitution, however, does not allow for different levels of Article V Conventions nor does it have any provisions for instructions from the state legislatures to limit the delegates. Article V of the U.S. Constitution says:

Congress … on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing Amendments.

So for all intents and ……read more here.

Written by  Kurt Hyde

The Unsuspecting Thing Conservative Historian David Barton Did With $1 Million Awarded to Him in Defamation Lawsuit

Historian and Wallbuilders founder David Barton speaks on The Glenn Beck Program November 4, 2014.

(Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Conservative historian David Barton has given away the money he won as the result of a $1 million judgement issued earlier this year in a defamation lawsuit he brought against two Democratic Texas State Board of Education candidates who he accused of unfairly maligning him.

“All the money that we received as a result we gave away,” Barton told TheBlaze Monday, declining to share information about the recipient.

The WallBuilders founder filed a lawsuit after the candidates, Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Judy Jennings, claimed in a 2010 campaign video that Barton was tied to white supremacist groups. In that clip, the two reportedly said that Barton was “known for speaking at white supremacist rallies,” according to a 2012 New York Times report.

The two rallies mentioned in the video reportedly unfolded in 1991 and were with organizations linked to the Christian Identity movement, a racist group which believes “that whites of European descent can be traced back to the ‘Lost Tribes of Israel,’” among other racist and anti-Semitic beliefs, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Barton did not deny in court documents or in his interview with TheBlaze that he spoke to the groups, but said he was not aware of their beliefs at the time and that he never again attended any events linked to the movement, the Times reported.

After a three-year battle, Bell-Metereau and Jennings settled before the case went to trial in July. In addition to the $1 million payout, Barton also received an apology, WND reported.

“We understand that this statement suggested that David Barton is a white supremacist, and that the two organizations he is affiliated with, WallBuilder Presentations, Inc. and WallBuilders L.L.C., were associated with or supportive of white supremacists,” the two said. “After learning more about Mr. Barton, we realize this statement was false. We separately and jointly apologize to Mr. Barton for damage to him individually and to his two organizations as a result of that statement.”

And Barton has reportedly been able to…read more here.

By Billy Hallowell

The New Gun Control Ad That Has Some Absolutely Baffled: ‘So Let Me Get This Straight…’

Image source: YouTube

A pro-gun control video posted to YouTube December 13 has triggered rounds of online criticism as some pro-gun rights activists have said it encourages kids to bring guns to school.

The 3-minute clip, posted by San Francisco-based independent film director Rejina Sincic, walking into his parents’ bedroom without their knowledge. He opens a drawer where he finds a gun and then takes it back to his room and stuffs it in his backpack.

He goes to school with the gun in his bag. When the class ends and the rest of his classmates have already left the room, he removes the gun from his bag, walks over to the teacher’s desk and, after startling her with the firearm, places it on her desk.

“Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house,” the boy tells the teacher.

Sincic flashes a graphic moments later which reads, “Our children deserve a safe world” and then another which reads “Stop gun violence now” with a school hallway seen behind the wording.

Watch it here:

Several YouTube users commented on…….read more here. 

By Jon Street

 

West-ward Ho (ho ho): Off to Texas

It was almost eleven years to the day in December 2003 when upon redeployment from Iraq, I loaded up our Chevy Suburban and a 6×12 U-Haul trailer.

We were departing Ft. Hood Texas for Plantation, Florida so our girls could start school in a new semester — and Angela could continue her career as a financial advisor. I reflected upon that trip during the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America in May. We came down I-35 to Hwy 190 to Houston and hit I-10 then down to the Florida turnpike. We found our way to Sunrise Blvd and headed west to Nob Hill Road and what would become our home in the subdivision called Fountain Springs.

We arrived around 2 am and boy, was I beat — and thus began the longest period of time the West family hunkered down in one location.

And so it is that today I will load up a Jeep Cherokee Overland and another 6×12 U-Haul trailer heading back to Texas to assume the position of CEO of theNational Center for Policy Analysis. Aubrey, now a 21-year-old college senior will ride with Dad while Austen, an 18-year-old high school senior will fly out with Mom on Christmas morning. Yep, bummer, Angela and I will spend our 25th anniversary apart — but hey, she’s getting a really nice house in Dallas.

So, eleven years here in South Florida, no regrets, and there are so many great lifelong friends we’ve made. It was the place where our girls grew up and yes, we’ll be keeping the home in Fountain Springs – that’s how you build a legacy for your children.

As I reflect upon all those whom we have met, there are two who stand above the rest — Pastors Scott Eynon and Mark Hattabaugh of Community Christian and The Pentecostals. Community Christian is our home church and shall forever be so. Pastor Hattabaugh has been a great spiritual mentor for our family and exposed our girls to several mission trips. There have been so many great individuals we’ve met here, but these two have gone above and beyond in their prayers of protection for our family.

The congregation at Community Christian is a family unlike any other and when you enter the sanctuary there’s a big banner stating, “No perfect people allowed.” I’ve shared many of Pastor Scott’s sermons here and he is without a doubt one of the most astute preachers of God’s word — a funny guy, and oh yeah, a serious Miami Dolphins fan!

As many of us sit and pray for the three fallen law enforcement officers from this week, I must give a serious shout out to the South Florida law enforcement officers I’ve come to know — and those who stand by their side. Bandit 6, Brendan, and Vince you guys take care. Boca Bevy, I’ll miss ya. And to the editor of this website whom I met on a SCUBA dive at South Florida Dive Headquartersin Pompano Beach — well, thanks!

However, in heading back…….read more!

 

Written by Allen West

VIDEO: Texas Voters Have a New Message for Its Politicians; It Should Go National

A Texas group has a message to Lone Star State politicians, and they’re taking to song to communicate a message that should be a rally cry of all Americans.

“We’ll be watching you.” is the message from Empower Texans,  an organization that “exists to assist Texans in creating and sustaining a system of strong fiscal stewardship within all levels of government.”

Sung to the tune of the 1983 hit song, “Every Breath You Take,” by the English rock band, The Police, which topped the charts that year, the song takes on a whole new patriotic meaning with the revised version.

WATCH BELOW:

Every hand you shake,
Every cent you take,
Every vow you break,
Every vote you make,
We’ll be watching you!

Every single day,
Every word you say,
Every game you play,
Every time you stray,
We’ll be watching you!

Oh, can’t you see,
You represent me?
How my wallet aches,
With every vote you make!

Every hand you shake,
Every cent you take,
Every vow you break,
Every vote you make……Read more and watch the video here!

By Matthew Burke

Op-Ed: A Christmas Reminder of God’s Promises To Us

Merry Christmas to all of you! I just love this time of year, don’t you? To me it’s special because I know I’ll be baking cookies with the kids and gathering with my family and friends over special, time honored recipes and traditions while celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this post today, to discuss the Christmas Story, the beautiful story we find in the books of the Bible known as the Gospels, about how a virgin named Mary was to be blessed by God to carry God’s own son, Jesus. We all know it by heart, I’m sure, but it’s one of those stories that I love to hear unfold over and over, time after time. Each time I read it to my kids, or read it to myself, I find something new or special, a hidden gem, or maybe a forgotten one. You know, like when you watch your favorite movie and each time you notice something different. Yeah, like that!

Little back story here, my grandfather on my mother’s side was named Simeon. Our oldest son has the middle name Simeon—to honor my grandfather and to have a living reminder of another man named Simeon who has a very touching role in the Christmas Story. This brings me to my ‘new ‘ favorite part of the story of Jesus’ birth and something that proves just one more time, as if we needed it, that God always keeps his promises.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arm and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people in Israel.”

Wow.

I’m not sure if I’m more amazed by God’s promise to Simeon or to Simeon’s reaction after he gets to hold baby Jesus. Simeon recognized God’s sovereignty and his promise and then he says, “…you now dismiss your servant in peace…” I can’t honestly read that part without tears welling up in my eyes. I can’t also help but be reminded of the peace that my soul feels when he says that. I feel a surrender or a freedom that you can’t get anywhere else. Reminds me of the song, “It Is Well With My Soul”, because, it was well with Simeon that he had lived his life completely fulfilled.

The next sentence proves to be even more powerful, “…for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people…” Simeon knew he was blessed, privileged even, to have actually looked into the face of God in the flesh. I can’t even begin to imagine how awesome that must have been. I love how the salvation was for all people. Not exclusive to the rich or the pharisees, no ‘white privilege’ in that statement. We are all created equal in the sight of God.

I pray that we all find the same fulfillment that Simeon found; the kind of fulfillment that comes from a relationship with Jesus. I also hope that by reading this that we’re reminded again of how God keeps his promises to us; the promise of salvation and the promise of eternal life and how awesome that it will be when we are all called home to heaven to see the face of Jesus.

By Kelley Horsley

State approves Boy Scout lease of El Paso land, advocacy group objects

A lake which will be turned over to Boy Scouts is situated between I-10 and West Paisano. Mt. Cristo Rey is visible at top of photo. (Photo: Victor Calzada–El Paso Times) 

AUSTIN >> The Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday gave the go-ahead to lease state land in El Paso for use as a Boy Scouts camp at below-market rates over the objections of a local group.

The group said such a taxpayer-funded gift should not go to an organization that openly discriminates against gays.

The transportation commission voted to lease 222 acres between Interstate 10 and Paisano Drive to the Yucca Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The parcel lies north of Executive Center Boulevard and south of Sunland Park Drive.

It will be used as one of the largest urban Boy Scout camps in the United States, transportation commission Chairman Ted Houghton said earlier this week.

The scouts and the Texas Department of Transportation still must negotiate the lease, which will run for 25 years and include an option for another 25, Roland Tilden of TxDOT’s Real Estate Management Division told the commission.

The parcel will provide an “urban campsite,” a “much-needed option for outdoor camping,” Tilden said.

The state is waiving a requirement that it seek fair-market value for the property “for social mitigation purposes.”

It’s not appropriate to give such public resources to an organization that does not allow gay men to serve as scoutmasters, said Skip Rosenthal, executive director of the group International AIDS Empowerment of El Paso and Las Cruces.

“Our city should be opposing this,” Rosenthal said. “We should not be giving government perks to an organization that discriminates against gay men.”

The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America last year voted to overturn a ban against openly gay youth joining the organization. It kept in place a ban on gay scoutmasters even though the group’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said it should be overturned, USA Today reported.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in June slammed the ban on homosexual scoutmasters and said it reinforced the worst stereotypes about gay men.

One of those, Rosenthal said, was that gays are more likely than other men to molest children.

Gregory Herek, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis who studies homophobia, has written that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that gay men molest children at a disproportionately high rate.

If city government had a policy similar to the Boy Scouts, it would violate El Paso’s non-discrimination ordinance, Rosenthal said. He called on the El Paso City Council to pass a resolution in objection to the lease.

Read more here....

By Marty Schladen / Austin Bureau

Report: Texas Payday Lenders and Prosecutors Team Up to Criminally Pursue Borrowers

Photo: Observer

In March 2012, Margaret Jones, a 71-year-old Austin great-grandmother, found herself in a financial crisis. Her husband had recently passed away, she’d lost a temporary job and she was struggling to live on a Social Security check of $1,160 each month. Jones, who asked that her real first name not be used, had moved in with her daughter but was looking for her own place. She had just enough to cover utilities, groceries, gas for her car and rent, but not enough left over for a deposit for an apartment. Cash Plus, a California-based payday loan franchise, had recently opened a location near her home in South Austin, so one day Jones went in and took out a $225 loan. In a month, she would owe Cash Plus $271.91—an effective APR of 245 percent. Jones hoped to be settled in her new place by then and have her finances in order enough to pay the loan off. But a month later, her financial situation had worsened.

The deposit on her new place was tied up. The electricity bill was much higher than expected. And she’d also taken on an auto-title loan; not keeping up with the payments would mean losing her car. She explained all this to a Cash Plus manager, who persuaded her to renew, or “roll over,” her payday loan by carrying the balance forward and paying $50 in fees.

But then the next month Jones faced the same hopeless prospect. This time she didn’t even have the cash to pay the renewal fees.

 “I was in an impossible situation,” she said, “but at the same time I wanted to keep my obligations with these people.” She pleaded for a payment plan but the store manager demanded the full amount.

 “What I thought was going to happen was they would have some kind of sympathy for a senior who was living on a fixed income of Social Security and that they would allow me to make some kind of monthly payment.”

Instead, the manager began haranguing Jones over the phone for the full amount of $271. Jones kept asking for a payment plan. One day, he told her, “I hate to do this to you,” but didn’t explain what he was planning to do. After that she didn’t hear from him for a few weeks, until the day he called to give her a “case number” and a telephone number to call. As she would find out later, the man had filed a criminal theft by check complaint against her with a Travis County justice of the peace.

“I was just terrified to the point that I couldn’t eat, my blood pressure went up,” she said. “I was just nervous, scared.”

Jones hunkered down, waiting for something to happen. But nothing came in the mail, no threatening letters or legal notices. In February, almost two years later, she called the Department of Public Safety to see about getting her driver’s license renewed—but DPS refused. That’s how she found out that a warrant had been issued for arrest. As she later discovered with the help of a pro bono attorney, the justice of the peace court had sent her paperwork to a previous address and she’d missed a court hearing. In her absence, the judge had ordered her to pay $981 in court fees and restitution, and issued a warrant for her arrest.

Pursuing, or even threatening, criminal charges against payday and title borrowers is strictly prohibited by Texas law, with very few exceptions. The Texas Constitution unequivocally states, “No person shall ever be imprisoned for debt.”

But new research released this morning by Texas Appleseed shows that criminal charges against payday borrowers for missing payments are common in Texas. Texas Appleseed documents more than 1,500 criminal complaints of bad check and theft by check allegations filed by payday loan companies in Texas between 2012 and the spring of this year. Many of them resulted in fines, arrest warrants and even jail time.

The research builds on reporting by the Observer published in July 2013, which found 1,700 instances in which payday lenders in Texas have filed criminal complaints against customers. The Observer story prompted an ongoing investigation by the state Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, which regulates the industry in Texas, into one payday loan business, Cash Biz. It also led regulators to issue an advisory bulletin to lenders warning them to stop pursuing criminal charges against their customers.

Texas Appleseed found 13 different payday loan companies pursuing criminal charges in eight different counties, including Travis, Dallas, Harris and Collin. Texas Appleseed filed a complaint today with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the state Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner. The complaint letter, which includes 700 pages of supporting documentation calls for state and federal authorities to launch an investigation and take enforcement action against lenders abusing the law and their customers.

“In addition to their outrageous rates and lending practices, payday loan businesses are illegally using the criminal justice system to coerce repayment form borrowers,” said Ann Baddour of Texas Appleseed. “This directly contravenes state and federal law, which eliminated debtor’s prisons long ago.”

In one justice of the peace court in Harris County, the group found that arrest warrants were issued in more than 42 percent of the cases and at least six people served jail time. In Collin County, there were 740 documented criminal cases against payday borrowers—636 from a single lender, PLS Loan Store—and $132,000 collected from borrowers.

 Consumer advocates say district attorneys and courts are—intentionally or not—acting as debt collection agencies for predatory lenders. A letter from a DA threatening steep fines, arrest and jail time can be a highly persuasive tool. In Margaret Jones’ case, a Travis County constable paid her two visits. The first time she wasn’t home; the second she hurried him inside before her neighbors could see. The constable urged her to contact the court.

 She said she fell apart. Read more here…..

by Forrest Wilder 

Texas lawmaker pushes annual tax holiday on guns and accessories

Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) wants to make the last weekend in every August a tax-free holiday for guns and ammunition. (Photo: Facebook)

On the second time around a bill for an annual tax-free holiday weekend on guns and hunting supplies in the Lone Star State may gain the traction it needs to become law.

The measure, pre-filed last month for the upcoming 2015 legislative session, would set aside the last weekend in August as a tax-holiday for guns, ammo and also archery equipment, hunting blinds and stands, decoys, optics, gun safes and cases, and firearm cleaning supplies.

Plano Republican Rep. Jeff Leach introduced introduced the bill, modifying it from one he submitted last year to set up March 2 — Texas Independence Day — as a one-day tax-free holiday, which failed to gain traction.

His new bill, HB 206, pushes the start of the proposed moratorium to the last full weekend of August, set to run from 12:01 a.m. on the Friday of that weekend and end at midnight that following Sunday.

The chances of the bill’s success this time around, after GOP gains in the state legislature, are likely buoyed. Following November’s election results, Republicans now enjoy a 19 to 13 margin of seats in the Texas Senate and 98 to 52 margin in the House after winning significant gains in both.

Just after the election dust cleared the state’s new Republican governor-elect, Greg Abbott, fresh from his landslide victory, promised that he would sign an open-carry bill into law if it reaches his desk after campaigning on a platform that included strong gun rights pillars. This was greeted by a flurry of pro-gun legislation filed for the upcoming session.

The tax holiday legislation proposed for Texas is not the first of its kind in the country.

According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the first state to implement one of these holidays was South Carolina in 2008. That year the Palmetto State saw a 650 percent increase in one-day sales. Since then the legislation has been introduced in Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming.

In September, Mississippi kicked off its first annual Second Amendment sales tax holiday as a result of legislation introduced during the 2013 session that was…..read more here.

by Chris Eger