Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Texas Tribune’s 21 House Races to Watch

Friday saw the appearance on the Texas Tribune’s website a list of 21 state house races to watch. Ones where an incumbent was at risk to some extent or another. It’s an interesting read.

It breaks down 21 races into 3 categories, one where an incumbent being beat is likely, ones where it’s a toss-up, and ones where unseating an incumbent is possible.

It would seem that the governing rule in their analysis is that Texans are predisposed to be anti-incumbent or anti-Democrat. Their analysis shows that if they hit 100% of their predictions Republicans stand to gain 7 House seats among just those 21 races. And among Republican incumbents, just about all of them are at-risk of losing their seats because they fell afoul of ethics this year.

As if Republicans would vote for a Democrat because their candidate is ethically challenged. Something I tend to doubt.

At least that’s the way it goes around these parts.

I beg to differ from the Texas Tribune in just this one way. While Democrats are in charge in DC, and they are the incumbents that Americans are going to have trouble with, the problem we have with incumbents in Austin is very much because the Republicans have been in charge for 7 years now.

Republicans are the incumbents, not Democrats.

And yes, all politics are local, so looking at how a district votes based on what they did in 2008 when they voted for McCain does not in and of itself say anything about who people vote for in local races. This is reflected in their “possible” turnover pick of Pati Jacobs in her run against Tim “La-Z-Boy” Kleinschmidt in HD-17. The district has slowly tilted toward Republican but the guy they elected in ’08 has been a total washout. I suspect the Texas Tribune underestimates Jacobs’ race.

And finally, the analysis was written before the fire in Houston that destroyed all 10,000 of Harris County’s voting machines. What this does in the HD-133 and HD-138, two districts entirely within Harris County has not been factored in. Nor has, at this writing, the cause of the fire (as if that was in doubt).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When All Else Fails . . .

Burn up the voting machines.

It really can’t get more obvious than this, can it? 52 days before Early Voting starts for this pivotal 2010 midterm election, Harris County, one of the most populous counties in the state of Texas, representing 15% of those who vote in elections, lost each and every one of their Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machines in a warehouse fire on Friday.

The fire was first reported in the wee small hours of the morning.

But Houston’s arson investigators still don’t have a clue as to how the fire was started.

Hart InterCivic doesn’t have a clue either. They just don’t know how many new and used eSlate machines they have in their current inventory. Gosh darn it all, no one keeps a count, it seems.

Now there has been a lot made of the fact that Harris County, which encompasses most of the City of Houston is a Bill White stronghold, and that a voter suppression effort on the part of Republicans, you know, like burning up all the voting machines, would most probably help Rick Perry retain the Governor’s office. But I’m not so sure that this was the intent here. There is so much more at stake in 2010.


With Democrats holding 73 House District seats, Democrats are just 3 seats away from taking control of the State House in 2011. Need I remind you of the fact that 2011 will be the year that Texas redraws its congressional boundaries? Need I also remind you of the fact that Texas stands to gain 3 additional Congressional seats as a result of population growth recorded by the 2010 census?

This is a huge, huge year. That we stand a good chance of replacing a rightwing reactionary Republican governor with someone who actually knows how to get things done is really beside the point.

Look at local state house races for instance. Dwayne Bohac of HD 138, entirely within Harris County is an ethics-challenged candidate who has lots of experience in voter suppression. If Dwayne Bohac can be turned out of office by Kendra Yarbrough Camarena we are a third of the way toward the goal of retaking the State House.

Likewise Kristi Thibault. Thibault took HD 133, also entirely within Harris County, away from Republican Jim Murphy in 2008 by a mere 497 votes and is set for a rematch with Murphy this fall. A loss there could offset a possible win by Camarena.

Want a formula on how to hijack an election, arguably in a local sense, an election that is actually more important than the one in 2008? First, go paperless. Have voting machines where there is no paper trail to record who actually won the election.

Then burn them all up.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Republican Governors are Faultless

Republican New Jersey Governor Lou Christie, upon hearing that his state failed to garner Race to the Top federal grants because his state did not submit an application with the required data, information on the 2008-09 school year, took the blame like a man, that “as governor, he is “ultimately responsible for everything that happens here”

Then he walked that one back. No one was to blame, nope, it was just how the cookie crumbles.


“Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Christie, confirmed today that an "error" was made on the application but did not say who was responsible. Education Commissioner Bret Schundler and other officials from his department learned of the error when they made an in-person presentation in Washington two weeks ago, she said.”
Then Lou Christie seemed to blame his $400 million edge-out by Ohio to the fact that the application was so thick. Who can have time to read all of that, one would ask. Or hope.

Then as we find out later, Christie effected a last-minute switcheroo and included in his proposal a bunch of Republican concepts that were opposed by the New Jersey Education Association, stuff like merit pay, tenure reform and school choice. When the grant failed to meet the mark everyone ran for cover, it seems, because of the proposal’s inclusion of Republican “reforms.” Such was not the case, however. Obama likes that stuff, you know. Merit pay, school choice.

Nobody’s perfect.

No, as it turns out the proposal lost points because it failed to meet one of the requirements stipulated by the Department of Education.

Then, recovering, Low Christie blamed the Obama Administration, whose bureaucrats were “checking boxes like mindless drones”. They were just being too picky and it’s all about the fact that he is a Republican.

Tell that to Sonny Perdue of Georgia, a state with a Republican governor that got a RTTT grant.

OK, then Christie leveled his accusatory finger at his education commissioner, and today gave him the sack.
Blame, it seems, is hard to take on oneself.

Tell that one to Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Perry is poised to kiss off Texas’ share of $10 billion, some $830 million in federal education stimulation funds from the $26 billion package recently voted into law. And who is to blame for this fiasco?

Perry?

Heck no. The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of Congressman Lloyd Doggett who put language in that bill that requires Texas to promise that it will use education funds for education rather than to balance a budget shortfall.

Don’t blame the Governor. Despite the fact that he has a track record for putting all federal stimulation funding into a huge shell game. Hey presto, now you see it, now you don’t.

So the lesson is this, governors who lose out on federal education dollars are blameless. There are far too many people around them to point their fingers at. Blame the governor? Who is kidding whom?

And really, they are absolutely right, these two governors are absolutely blameless. They are only doing what they say that they are going to do, and that is follow the Republican agenda.

No, when states lose federal dollars to save their education systems, you don’t blame their governors.

You blame the people who elected them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

King’s Dream, Beck’s Scheme

On August 28th it will be the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in front of a throng of two hundred thousand supporters who participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

History tells us that this event was a turning point in the long climb to racial equality as it placed new pressures on the Kennedy Administration to take stronger action.

And in honor of this event, the Teabaggers have decided to usurp the day in order to allow Fox News Comedian Glen Beck to sell his wares.

From King’s “I Have a Dream,” we now have Beck’s “I Have a Scheme.”

Glen Beck would be a joke if it weren’t for the fact that he is a) listened to and viewed by a throng of ignorant white people who feel threatened, and b) is so blatantly in it for himself that selling God and selling Gold, to Beck, is one and the same thing, except for the addition of that bothersome little “l.”

Glen Beck dishes out fear, then cashes in by touting gold sales, something everyone wants to buy in these very uncertain times (thanks to that racist African-American Kenyan Muslim President, Barack Hussein Obama).

These days it is good to be Beck. It’s good because Beck can be a mediocre man yet pull down millions for himself. Beck can attract supporters despite the fact that his speeches are amateurish and insipid where King’s were polished and educated, where Beck's inspire fear while King’s inspired hope.

And yes, there will be a counter rally at the same time. I just heard that TrueMajority and USAction will be there with a 4 story tall sculpture to celebrate Dr. King’s triumphal speech. Learn about it here at Celebrate the Dream.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Texas School Districts Won’t Appeal Their Grading Lawsuit

As I had predicted here, the eleven Houston-area school districts that brought suit against the Texas Education Commissioner over their unwillingness to accede to the will of the state legislature  have caved in and will not seek an appeal of Judge Triana-Doyal ‘s decision last June that their reading of the law was diagnostic of their lack of 9th grade reading comprehension skills.

Judge Gisela Triana-Doyal of the 200th Judicial District Civil Court, on the other hand, had no problem reading the meaning of SB 2033, a bill written by Republican State Senator Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound) in response to teacher complaints of district grading rules, requiring them not to assign a grade to a student of less than 50. She ruled that the language in the bill was unambiguous, as claimed by the eleven districts.

Texas AFT president Linda Bridges noted their lack of follow-through in this way.

“All Texas school districts should implement this law as intended, with no more unearned minimum grades but with reasonable opportunities for students to redo assignments or exams in order to earn a passing grade.”

Alief ISD Trustee Sarah Winkler noted that it would have cost her district another $15,000 to appeal the decision (assuming all of the other districts were in, I would imagine). Taxpayers, already irate over the handing out of undeserved grades, would have made their lives miserable, I imagine.

But cost aside, Clear Creek ISD was philosophical in their statement, saying that no matter what the outcome of an appeal, the 2011 legislature would simply do an end-around to any end-around that they could divine.

“‘While we fundamentally disagree with the judge's ruling, we're not appealing because any successful appeal would likely be readjusted during the legislative session,’ spokeswoman Elaina Polsen said.”

All fundamental disagreement aside, this is clearly a win for teachers. Teachers are not heartless souls – well mostly not. Most teachers weigh each and every case independently rather than apply a broad brush to students and their grades. Students who exhibit willingness or incentive to improve have a better chance of passing a class than ones who simply occupy space and use up the classroom’s air.

The outlawed policy was clearly created because districts have no faith in the professionalism of their teachers. SB 2033 corrected that attitude.

It’s too bad that economics and failed lawsuits have to bring sanity back to the school districts, but as they say, a win is a win.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rick Perry is a . . .

Oh this is too funny.

The Back to Basics people who are behind lots of the Bill White for Governor internet effort have developed another attack on the Texas governor who refuses to talk to media editorial boards let alone participate in an open and honest debate on the issues that affect Texans.

They have a new website.

A new website simply entitled “Perry is a Coward.”

Go there. The first thing you see is Rick Perry standing in an opaque background.

A background as opaque as his campaign. As opaque as the lens that he allows Texas voters to examine his record by.

But don’t be fooled. Just scroll down to see the ad that Back to Basics is going to run in 24 Texas media outlets.

In thinking about this, I considered the utter brilliance of this tack. All you need is a few bucks to buy unique website names, all of them beginning with “Perry is a.” Then you fill in the blank.

All you really need is a thesaurus to make more.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paid Political Hack to Direct Fort Bend County Coordinated Campaign

When do you become aware that a sleepy backwater suburban county Democratic Party apparatus has suddenly shaken awake? The answer is the moment when an all-volunteer effort hires a paid political hack to oversee its coordinated campaign. We all knew that this would happen once County Chair Steve Brown was elected and sworn into office, but it’s nice to see it when the change that is promised becomes the change that is delivered.

Today, in a news release, the Fort Bend County Democratic Party announced its new Executive Director.

Quoting from the release:

The Fort Bend County Democratic Party has named political campaign veteran Nick Hellyar as Executive Director of the party's Coordinated Campaign, party Chair Steve Brown announced.

Hellyar, who has managed and worked on campaigns for a variety of Fort Bend and Houston-area Democratic candidates, will be responsible for all aspects of the Blue Fort Bend in 2010 local candidate campaign.

"As Executive Director, I'll be responsible for turning out the Democratic vote in the upcoming November elections," Hellyar said."That means working to provide essential support, resources and training to promote our candidates and agenda. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be block-walking, phone-banking, registering voters and hosting a series of rallies aimed at informing and exciting Fort Bend’s Democratic base."
Said County Chair Steve Brown of Hellyar’s hiring:
"I think Nick's hiring further demonstrates how committed we are to turning out Democrats in upcoming elections. His background is a perfect mix of campaign experience along with a familiarity with Fort Bend County. Both of these attributes are essential to our overall success."
Hellyar will maintain an office at the county party’s coordinated campaign headquarters at 31 E. Highway 90A in Richmond (right next to Baytown Seafood). These are some digs that, curiously, lacks a leaky roof and water-stained ceiling tiles that have marked campaign headquarters of the past.

So first, no leaky roof and now a paid director. To say that things are looking up for a Democratic presence in Fort Bend County would be an understatement.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Israel, Palestine and Baraq O’Bamah

It was announced this past Friday that there would be renewed direct negotiations – or “talks” – between the Israeli government and Palestinian leaders.


“Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are to resume for the first time since they broke down over the conflict in Gaza more than a year and a half ago.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israeli and Palestinian leaders had agreed to meet in Washington within days. She warned the parties not to be defeated by what she called ‘the enemies of peace’.”
This is a big coup for President Obama who had this very thing on his agenda since taking office last year. There are lots of people, though, who have serious doubts that any real progress is possible. Both sides seem intractable and have positions that are directly opposite to each other. Positions that are more about national and cultural pride and religion than anything else.

A recipe for failure if ever there was one.

And on top of all of that, there is that whole Antichrist thing going on in America. The Antichrist thing is being fanned by some truly triple Z Crazzzy Christian Evangelicals who think that Barack Obama, or really Baraq O’Bamah, is the Antichrist.

This little gem is from a viral You Tube video that attempts to translate His words into Aramaic. Hence when Jesus said “I saw Satan as lightening falling from the heights” the partial translation would be “I saw Satan as baraq o'bamah.”

Crazy, huh?

And how does all of this relate to Israel and Palestine? Well if you are to believe the trio that were interviewed at the Christians United for Israel conference that took place in DC in July 2007 the thing that Barack Obama’s administration has just committed to is seemingly the work of the Antichrist.


video

Endtimes, here we come.

These are all followers of Texas’ own Reverend John Hagee. These are Hagee’s own thoughts, thoughts that he has written in his book.

So what does Hagee think about this whole notion that Barack Obama is the Antichrist?

video

Whew. Another bullet dodged.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One in Five Americans . . .

Why does it surprise anyone that one in five Americans believe that President Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim? Polls after all, are supposed to sample opinion across America in a way that avoids concentration on any one age group, any one region, and any one level of intellect.

You wouldn’t, for instance, conduct a poll in only Southern states to gauge an opinion that was supposed to reflect a national trend.

You wouldn’t direct your phone calls exclusively to college towns.

You need to get a cross section.

And guess what, 1 in 5 Americans are dumber than a bag of hammers.

One in five Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim. The very same proportion of Americans also believe these things:

They believe that the Sun revolves around Earth. Sadly, Nicholas Copernicus pretty much debunked that about 467 years ago, but I guess it takes more time for news to spread.

They believe that humans have been contacted by visitors from other planets. I saw that movie, too.

They believe that torture is a legitimate method to gain intelligence from terrorists and other Muslims.

They believe that individual states have a right to secede from the Union. Our governor is among these, unfortunately. They believe this despite the fact that the South actually lost that argument 145 years ago. Again, news travels slowly sometimes.

But what you say you know, or say you don’t know isn’t all of it, is it? What you say, a friend tells me, is not as revealing as what they actually do. So this amazing proportion also do, or don’t do the following:

20% of Americans have admitted that they pee in swimming pools. Comforting thought, huh?

As discussed by Miss Teen South Carolina, 20% of Americans can’t find America on a map.

So really, in broad terms over the length and breadth of America every 5th person you meet does not have the knowledge or the skill set to do something that many of us feel is a citizen’s most sacred duty, and that is to vote in elections. And the hope is that because of their ignorance and lack of ability, they don’t do that. It was Thomas Jefferson, after all, that said this:

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Truer words were never spoken. But from what I read in this Boston Globe article, it is the hopelessly ignorant among us who have the strongest political convictions.
“On its own, this might not be a problem: People ignorant of the facts could simply choose not to vote. But instead, it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. (Most of these participants expressed views that suggested a strong antiwelfare bias.)”
Conclusion? When faced with interaction with conservative ignorance the last thing you want to do is shower someone in the truth. For heaven’s sake don’t introduce facts. Best just to talk about the weather.

But leave out the part about global chimate change.

It Pays to be a Friend of Rick Perry

Literally.

Wayne Slater at the Dallas Morning News has a piece out about what it means to people to be friends of Rick Perry.

It means dollar signs and lots and lots of zeroes.

Witness what it has meant to Perry BFF Ray Sullivan and his wife.


“One family that’s done well is the Sullivans of Austin, Ray and Leslie, whose political ties to Perry over the past decade have paid big dividends.”   
“Ray has shuttled between top jobs on Perry’s staff and as a lobbyist representing interests with business before the state. His wife has directed the governor’s political fundraising.”  
“They haven’t broken the law or the rules governing the practice of politics and policy, and they’ve made between $4 million and $5.7 million since Perry’s been governor, according to campaign reports, lobby filings and state payroll records.”
Get that? No laws are broken but a close friend and ally has enriched himself by being known to be close to the governor, and advocating positions to him.

For pay.

Positions like the governor’s attempted land grab for the Trans Texas Corridor, a project proposed by the HNTP Corporation – who paid Sullivan to advocate for them.

Positions like the governor’s aborted attempt to privatize the Texas Lottery, remember that one? Turns out that it was Sullivan’s client, the Swiss bank UBS, that wanted in on that deal.

Both Sullivan and his wife have landed whales for Rick Perry’s campaign treasure chest, and both Sullivan and his wife have been generously repaid by giving them jobs that allow them to pull down paychecks that put them in the tax bracket that will very probably have the Bush tax cuts removed.

People who wonder why Rick Perry is going for an unprecedented 3rd term need look no further than how he has used this time to finely hone his skills in enriching himself and his friends. Paraphrasing Tom’ Petty’s song, It’s good to be governor.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Iraq War Ends; Roger Clemens Is Innocent

Did you ever wonder why we Americans tolerated a 7.5 year war, a pointless fabricated war in Iraq?


On the very day that the last combat battalion in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait – from whence they came – Houston Astros star ballplayer Roger Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, got media coverage concerning his client’s innocence for taking performance enhancing drugs.

Steroids.

And this, and not the end of combat operations in the illegal and immoral war in Iraq is front page news on the Houston Chronicle.


God, sometimes (no, more than most times) I hate where I live.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It Depends on What You Are 10 Percent Of

I live in a state that has a law that is, simply put, uniquely Texas. It is a result of Texas’ HB 588 that was signed into law in 1997 after the University of Texas lost its court case when it defended its affirmative action policy in Hopwood vs. University of Texas.

Hopwood was a case where four white applicants were refused admission to the UT School of Law because UT was required to admit students who had lower grades and test scores, but because of their race, and UT’s policy to promote racial diversity, were admitted.

The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1996.

As a result, the legislature sought to guarantee racial diversity in a new untried way and passed HB 588. This law simply guaranteed admission to any Texas university to any student who graduated in the top 10% of their class.

This put all schools on an equal footing.

Unfortunately, unlike man, not all schools are created equal. Some schools and school districts are poor performers and some are high performers. So it stands to reason that students from a high performing school who graduate in the next 10% below the top, will not be admitted to the University of Texas, but had they graduated from a school composed lower performing students and teachers, they would have gained admission.

And this was not lost on some people as a study by Kalena E. Cortes, entitled Ranking Up by Moving Out: The Effect of the Texas Top 10% Plan on Property Values reveals. As discussed in this Rick Casey article at the Houston Chronicle, parents who live in districts or school zones of schools with a larger number of high performing students simply do what would seem to be counter-intuitive: intentionally seek out the low-performing districts, the low-performing schools, and buy houses within their attendance zones.

This at least assures better success in the college application process. A mediocre student who wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks of attending UT suddenly becomes class valedictorian at a low-performance school.

Diabolical.

And this has a couple of twists of irony that are too sweet not to mention.

Not only do property values go up in low-performance school attendance zones, students who would normally be more academically challenged at a high-performance school ironically are less well-prepared at the low performance school, even though their grades don’t reflect that.

And there is yet one more ironical twist.

Even though the Supreme Court refused to hear Hopwood, making HB 588 a necessity, seven years later in deciding Grutter v. Bollinger, the principles set forth by Hopwood were completely done away with. At that time the Supremes ruled that the US Constitution doesn’t prohibit affirmative action policies.

But this is the system that we in Texas have saddled ourselves with, all in the name of four white people who didn’t like it when we had a level playing field.

They just wanted to get into Law School. Instead they wound up raising property values in depressed areas, warping the educational system, and degrading college readiness of admitted students.

These People Who Beset Us

Priceless. Carlson has it exact.


Pardon me while I am otherwise engaged but these bigots need to be beaten back every day.

Agree?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tom DeLay: He’s Free at Last!

Former Congressman and DWTS contestant Tom “Twinkle Toes” DeLay, can now say that he is firmly in exactly the same position as the three members of the New Black Panther Party whose offenses were also cleared by the Department of Justice earlier this summer: they’ll not file charges against neither DeLay nor the New Black Panthers.

How appropriate.

You see, like the New Black Panther members that stood in front of a polling place with baseball bats on Election Day, Tom DeLay is as guiltless as a newborn lamb.

Try telling that to Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg is set to return to court next week to pick up where retired DA Ronnie Earle left off in trying to hang a prison sentence around DeLay and his two henchmen John Colyandro and Jim Ellis for money laundering.

A pre-trial hearing is set for August 24th, the first hearing since this past April when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to throw out the money laundering indictment against Colyandro and Ellis. Had they done that, Ellis, Colyandro and DeLay would have all been off the hook.

The lawyers representing Colyandro and Ellis argued that the money laundering law that they were accused of having broken was “too vague.” The law, they said, didn’t say anything about laundering checks. The $190,000 they were accused of laundering, they said, all came to them in checks.

That is, when you launder money, we’re talking cash. Checks are OK. Here is what the Court said about cash versus checks and vagueness:

“With respect to the appellants’ vagueness claims, the court of appeals concluded that the Election Code provisions, though broad and complex, were not so indefinite as to deprive a person of ordinary intelligence of the ability to understand what was prohibited.”

That’s a compliment, by the way. The Court went out of its way to rate the intelligence of Colyandro and Ellis as at least ordinary.

So Tom DeLay can breathe the sweet air of freedom as the Feds have backed off. Maybe he will share a brewsky with the NBPP members who he now finds himself with some shared experiences.

But given the fact that the 9 appellate court justices were unanimous in this decision last April, DeLay would be well-advised to breathe deeply of those freedom-bearing molecules. The Feds may have decided that things are well in hand in Texas and that it would be too costly as well as redundant to make a federal case out of it.

Poor Rick Perry

Poor Rick Perry. Just when he thinks he has landed on a hot button issue that is going to turn the tide against Bill White, someone reminds him that he is the one who is on the conservative side of the argument.

For months now Perry has been digging at Bill White’s foundations trying to undermine his image by exposing him for being the financial success that he is. Bill White didn’t spend decades in Austin exchanging political favors for shady financial dealings and campaign contributions. White got his fortune the old fashioned way. He earned it.

Or sometimes people threw money at him. What can I say? White is a Democrat, but not the most progressive Democrat I’ve ever seen.

But here’s the thing. This whole thing about how Bill White is tied to BJ Services (I know, it’s hard not to laugh at that name), an oil service company that is famous for, and some say infamous for, its thousands of frack jobs in the Barnett Shale is a lose-lose for Rick Perry.

First he simply used the relationship as a dig at Bill White earning $2.6 million while he was sitting on the board of directors for the oil firm. That didn’t have traction so last month, through this Texans for Rick Perry website Perry attacked Bill White’s affiliation with BJ Services (can’t stop laughing) for its water table polluting ways. From the website:

“‘Bill White is shamefully trying to use the fracturing industry to cover up the fact that the company that paid him more than $2.6 million – while he was mayor of Houston – is one of two companies Congress is investigating for admittedly pumping diesel and other dangerous chemicals into the groundwater,’ said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. ‘Bill White refuses to be held accountable for the rogue actions of his company, which has already admitted to Congress that it has been polluting.’”
Oops. Who oversees all of these companies doing frack jobs in the Barnett Shale? Rick Perry ultimately, but mainly his three Railroad Commissioners, Republicans all. Rick Perry, in attacking his opponent on an environmental issue, not only shot himself in the foot but also earned him a gentle reminder from the people in the natural gas industry on July 19th:

“‘Inaccurate statements made in the heat of a campaign ill-serve this important objective and the equally important goal of promoting broad public understanding of the extraordinary commitment and care our community takes every day to ensure we do our work in a safe and responsible manner,’ America's Natural Gas Alliance , an industry group, wrote in a July 19 letter to Perry.”
In other words, this is the natural gas industry telling Rick Perry to watch which way he’s shooting. He may be lobbing shells at Bill White, but it is the natural gas industry that is right now under the microscope in Washington, DC.

Prompting, of course, Rick Perry to stop bashing Bill about BJ and re-aiming at his favorite target, the Washington DC interlopers – on the very same day he received the above gentle reminder:

“‘I am a very strong advocate of hydraulic fracking. I've got great concerns that the federal government is trying to regulate that aspect of our drilling industry. It would basically shut down the oil and gas industry for hydraulic fracking to be outlawed or frankly, allow radical environmental interests to come in and have a say on how it should or where it can be used by the federal government.’”

“‘I think the state of Texas is doing an appropriate job and I think we're doing a pretty good job of making sure that companies that have misused the technique are being punished appropriately,’ Perry said.”
Leaving me to wonder whether this appropriate punishment is being meted out to all of the companies that “have misused the technique” or whether that is simply being applied only to companies that his political opponent has been associated with in the past.

Because when you try and find out where and when the Texas Railroad Commission is actively monitoring, catching and punishing frack job abusers, all you hear is the sound of crickets.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let’s Repeal the Bill of Rights

Why not? Let’s just go and repeal all of those bothersome constitutional amendments that seem to protect people we don’t like.

Like that most bothersome First Amendment. What a hodgepodge. I mean it. I mean in one single amendment we guarantee too many rights. First, the right of anyone to believe in any deity at all, or not believe in any for that matter. Who ever thought it would be used to protect the rights of a religious group we all agree to hate? Then there’s that bothersome right of free speech. Does it mean that someone I don’t like, like a NAZI or a Teabagger has the right to spout their crazy vile ideas? I think not. Free press? Does this mean we allow people to publish their lies and stupid points of view? Get real. The government knows what is right and that’s all that matters.

On the other hand, there’s that pesky 2nd Amendment. The one about the militia. If we all have guns, they thought, no one would be able to replace our government with a tyranny. But who is fooling whom? Can you buy Uranium depleted ammunition for your 50 caliber machine gun? What about an RPG? Heck, anyone have a suitcase nuke? On the other hand, how many tyrannical governments have we overthrown?

(Actually, like Tom Toles, I am serious about this one)

Or that 3rd Amendment. About quartering of troops. This is an issue anymore?

But the 4th Amendment, that whole search and seizure thing. How the heck are we going to be able to find incriminating things to charge the bad people with? Especially the bad people we don’t like? Like, you know, liberals. And what the heck, how will those electronics stores be able to check out the stuff in your shopping bags as you leave the store?

Oh, they do that anyway?

But this is the one I hate the most, that 5th Amendment. Don’t we have torture as a tool to question suspects now? How can we torture people and then NOT use what they tell us against them? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

And that 6th Amendment stuff about speedy trials and witnesses. All it does is protect criminals and people we don’t like. Chuck all of that and throw them all in the slammer where they belong.

The 7th? You want to have a jury trial for all matters over $20? Ever heard of inflation? Back in 1787 you could buy a house for $20.

And about that 8th Amendment. Punishment is supposed to hurt. It is by definition, cruel and unusual. Cruel and unusual punishment is an oxymoron if ever there was one. Keep your oxymorons out of my Constitution.

Then there’s the 9th Amendment. Heck I don’t even know what it means.

Oh and by God there’s the 10th Amendment. That stupid thing about states rights. Who follows that anyway? I mean it. The 10th says that any powers not listed in the Constitution are reserved to the states. When have they followed that one? Is Medicare in the Constitution? Social Security? No, but they take money out of your paycheck for them, don’t they? And not for you, either, but for some other guy. That’s . . . that’s . . . socialism.

And yes, if you were wondering whether I have gone certifiably crazy, the odds are that you would be correct.

Summer is over. School starts next week.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Religious Bigotry in America is Alive and Well

It is disconcerting, although not surprising at all, that a very significant majority of Americans oppose the construction of an Islamic place of worship two blocks from where the World Trade Center (aka Ground Zero) stood.

That this attitude flies in the face of the revolutionary ideas that created this country, that attracted immigrants to this country, and that makes this country the best country on Earth is what is most disconcerting to me.

All of this is based on a poll released on August 11 by CNN.

The poll question was posed in this way:

“As you may know, a group of Muslims in the U.S. plan to build a mosque two blocks from the site in New York City where the World Trade Center used to stand. Do you favor or oppose this plan?”
The question was asked of 1,009 adult Americans, 935 of them being registered voters, between August 6th and August 10th.

Totals: 68% Opposed, 29% Favor

Among Conservatives: 87% Oppose 12% Favor
Among Liberals: 45% Oppose 51% Favor

Over 50 Years of age: 76% Oppose 21% Favor
Under 50 Years of age: 61% Oppose 35% Favor

President Obama, finding himself in a stark minority, said this at a White House dinner commemorating the beginning of Ramadan, Islam’s month-long fasting that makes Lent look like a piker:
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country, That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”
More to the point, and I think the president also made this observation, Americans have systematically exerted religious bias on one religious minority after another over the years, despite the fact that religious freedom is one of the main principles that underlies the basic freedoms that America offers. As each religious group attained “legitimacy” they in turn set themselves against the next unpopular religion to appear on our shores.

As a noncombatant in this field, I can say that I understand why this is such a hot button issue among Americans. The wounds are still not completely healed, apparently.

That is a reason, but it is not an excuse.

There is a reason for public hysteria, but there is never an excuse for it.

Is there anyone out there that still thinks that the forced internment of 110,000 American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II was good and proper? At the time it was deemed necessary and even deserved. People like them had, after all, launched a sneak attack that killed over two thousand soldiers and sailors. Exactly analogous to the 19 Muslim extremists and their sneak attack on 9-11.

Public hysteria allowed “Japanese Relocation” to happen. And that is something that Americans can and will continue to look back on in shame.

The 14th Amendment rights of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent were trampled on because of some sort of ill-conceived guilt by association, and not just a little racism. Just so, the 1st Amendment rights of Muslims are being trampled on in the very same manner.

I guess the silver lining in this dark cloud that hangs over America is that the issue is opposition to construction of a mosque. At least we’re not restringing the barbed wire fences of Manzanar.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Politics of Choice

I was mildly amused today to see that a small tempest has erupted in a local school district’s teapot. It’s here at the Chron blog of the Fort Bend, Texas area.

It seems that the school district, Fort Bend ISD, has decided to change its mission statement and its “vision.” These are the things, they say, that define how the district sees itself and what it hopes to achieve. Why that is I cannot fathom. What has changed?

Nevertheless the district appointed a committee to refigure the mission statement and the “vision” and new versions of both were just revealed to the school board this week. For your edification I will place the old and new mission statements adjacent to each other.

Old:

“By teaching every child and learning every day, Fort Bend ISD will provide the best educational opportunities to ensure that all students are successful in a global tomorrow”
New:

“We will prepare our students to succeed in a global tomorrow!”
Not much is new under the sun. The “global tomorrow” language is still there as it has been for decades as far as I know. But perhaps the first part of the old mission statement was too many words, or perhaps there was too much there in terms of how all of this was going to be accomplished.

Maybe it was too much information.

After all, why explain all of that? Just make it a positive affirmation.

Or could it be that the district is rethinking the notion of teaching every student every day?

Who knows?

The change in the district’s “vision” is even more mysterious, and to some school board members, “disturbing.” Again, arranging them adjacently:

Old:

“Fort Bend ISD students will acquire knowledge, develop skills and build character so that they will lead productive, fulfilling and moral lives.”
New:

“Fort Bend ISD – the school system of choice!”
Common theme between the new vision and new mission statement? Fewer words and an exclamation point.

Common theme between the old vision and the new one? None.

The old vision simply rehashes the mission statement saying what it hopes to do and how it hopes to do it. The new vision either says that people choose to send their children to Fort Bend ISD over other districts, or that in Fort Bend ISD there is choice.

I think the vision committee meant the former, but I suspect the school board interprets the latter.

Choice, it seems is a loaded word these days. Republicans, which abound on the Fort Bend school board, don’t really like that word.

But it doesn’t bother me in the least.

Debbie Riddle Slammed By Former FBI Agent

You may have seen on CNN the Anderson Cooper interview of State Reps Debbie Riddle and Raphael Anchia the other day. They say the video is being spread far and wide. I myself received two emails from two different sources urging me to sit through the eleven minute exchange. In his email message, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie even congratulated State Rep Anchia for not falling out of his chair through the interview.

Anyway, it looks like Cooper was unwilling to just take Debbie Riddle’s word for it that she had the absolute unvarnished truth from a “former FBI agent” that mothers-to-be were crossing the US border illegally so they could give birth to citizens who would grow up to be terrorists.

You know, “real tin foil hat” stuff. Not just crazy, Texas Crazy.

So he went and got his own former FBI agent to interview, one Thomas Fuentes, a former assistant director no less. Fuentes pretty much debunks the whole riddle that is Debbie Riddle.


I like the “No preschool list” idea.

What the Voters Don’t Know Works For Rick Perry

Rick Perry is running a campaign based on ignorance.

As an educator, this runs counter to the very core of my being, but it doesn’t surprise me that the governor of the state that ranks second to last in America’s public school dropout rate, values ignorance over knowledge.

In denying Texans the opportunity to see Rick Perry in a televised debate with Democratic challenger Bill White, Perry, or more precisely, Perry’s handlers are bargaining that it is more beneficial to Perry’s image if Texans remain in ignorance how the two men stack up in a head-to-head debate. White is the better speaker of the two, and comes off very well when speaking extemporaneously. Perry lacks White’s ability to put complex thoughts together in a way that an 8th grader can understand what he means.

In other words, Rick Perry would have no trouble understanding what Bill White was saying, but would have great difficulty not looking like a complete fool responding to him.

So he stays away from debate. It worked for him in the primary against Kay Bailey Hutchison. Perry ran on ignorance and brass and handily defeated Hutchison. He expects to do the same against White.

But now we hear that Rick Perry will not even sit down with editorial review boards of the major newspapers and media outlets for a vetting. For an endorsement. This is slightly riskier because when a newspaper is not given a choice between candidates it has spoken to, it might just opt for the person who was willing to talk to them.

So one would think.

Trouble is, that’s not true either. Perry pulled the same stunt in refusing to be vetted by news media during the primary, but garnered the endorsements of those same media outlets anyway.

So for Rick Perry, Ignorance is Strength. The less people know about him the more likely it is that they will vote for him.

It is as if Perry’s campaign team have adopted the first sentence of the Doctor’s Oath: “First do no harm.” It’s just ironic that in this case harm is done by the spread of knowledge, and good is done by the preservation of ignorance.

Doubting is Uniquely American

It’s appalling, really, to observe the lengths that Americans will go to doubt what they see and hear. To cast doubt on anything that one sees that is unexpected or out of the ordinary.

I’ve always wondered why that is, and now I think I have an answer, thanks to the performance of Jackie Evancho and the stormy internet flame wars that erupted in her wake. And now I also have an answer for this question: why did I post a piece on her performance yesterday, a piece quite out of the ordinary for a political blog.

People make suspects out of extraordinary individuals.

To be extraordinary a person out performs all others in their area of expertise. And people by their very nature feel threatened in the face of excellence. They feel ordinary. They feel inadequate. They become miserable and unhappy with their lives.

So when Jackie Evancho belted out that Puccini aria the other night, the immediate reaction was disbelief. She was lip syncing. The microphone had been altered. To accept those explanations, though, is to also accept the fact that this was a plot hatched by the girl’s parents and the producers of the NBC reality series. The entire thing was an elaborate hoax and gullible viewers and members of the live audience were all fooled.

Isn’t that just so sad?

Imagine the scandal that would ensue should all be revealed that this was all staged. Memory isn’t so short that the folks that produce TV shows have forgotten the public furor that erupted when it was revealed that Xavier Cugat was fed the answers for the 50’s TV game show “$64,000 Question.”

It’s just so sad and such a poor reflection on our society.

It’s just as sad as those who dismiss our president’s glib speeches by emphasizing the presence of Telepromptrs, as if that explained why Barack Obama has such a keen sense of timing and stage presence. His speeches are polished to perfection but because he doesn’t memorize them, that makes him a fake.

Indeed, it is this same behavior that lies behind the “Birther” movement. The very legitimacy of this president is questioned. When has the citizenship of a president ever been questioned? Never. So just as little Jackie isn’t really a child prodigy because she has an altered microphone, Barack Obama isn’t really president because he was born in Kenya.

We Americans are experts at inventing the facts when our sense of adequacy is in danger of being questioned, aren’t we.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Did You Hear About That Little Girl?

I don’t watch “Reality TV” unless it is a news program. That’s about as real as it gets for me. No, when I switch on the tube it is either to watch (or listen to) the news or to escape from what I just watched (or listened to).

So I was probably the last person on the planet to hear about that kid, that little skinny 10 year old girl with the voice of a professional mezzo-soprano (I think) sing a selection from Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi, “O Mio Babbino Caro.”

In Italian, naturally.

Well, yes, I heard about it the next day, Wednesday, but it really didn’t come under my radar until today when they kept mentioning it on MSNBC while I was waiting for them to announce whether Judge Walker was going to lift his self-imposed Proposition 8 stay. So there was a lull in the day and I heard the performance was on You Tube, so I took a look.

This is what I saw:


Now the really awful thing about how the media is hyping this girl’s performance is by calling her “America’s Answer to Susan Boyle.” There really isn’t any comparison at all. The surprise in Boyle’s case is how the voice of an angel can come from the mouth of everyone’s maiden aunt. Little Jackie has been singing for only 2 years.

No, if we are to do this little girl any justice at all, perhaps we should all remember another child prodigy who recently passed. In reality, Jackie Evancho is the next Beverly Sills.

Here is Beverly Sills performing – at the tender age of 8 years.

Rick Perry, Racism, and Mirrors

Rick Perry called Bill White a racist the other day.

It was a really odd comment to make, but Governor Rick Perry went ahead and made it anyway.

To answer Bill White’s oft-repeated tagline, that “we need a governor who's a servant, as opposed to Rick Perry, who wants to be treated as master,” Rick Perry’s spokesman played the race card.

“Perry campaign manager Rob Johnson said White's comments to an African American audience in Dallas were "insensitive" and "racially motivated.”
Apparently no one checked the BS meter when they decided to put that one out there.

Bill White has been using that tagline for weeks now. He says it to all of his audiences, not just ones that are heavily attended by African-Americans.

He says it to Texans.

But the Perry campaign pounced when White repeated the line to a luncheon attended by mainly African-Americans, and got one of his Railroad Commissioners, Michael Williams to affect moral outrage over this “simply ignorant and offensive” remark.

Williams is African-American.

But it didn’t work. People pretty much saw it for what it was, ginned up moral outrage that itself reflected back on the Perry campaign. It wasn’t insensitive and racially motivated when Bill White delivered the remark to a Corsicana audience of Texans, nor was it so when he laid it out in front of a Palestine audience of Texans. But when Bill White said it to a Dallas audience of Texans it became racially charged and insensitive.

Because Rick Perry noticed that those Texans were special. State Rep Garnet Coleman said it best and also more diplomatically than I want to say: 
“The governor needs to stop trying to use African Americans as a wedge for his divisive and partisan political campaign.”
I’ll say. Rick Perry revealed that if you scratch below the surface you discover the undeniable fact that Rick Perry is, himself, a racist. White spoke the tagline to Texans, Perry saw White say it to African-Americans, and then propped up one of his minions, also African-American, to parrot his remarks.

That is, when Rick Perry leveled his accusatory finger at Bill White and called him a racist, he didn’t realize that everyone else who saw him do that also saw that Perry was staring into a mirror.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whose Religion Demands the Most Hatred?

In response to my earlier post, I received (and posted) a comment from a reader who has trouble with the 1st Amendment. You know, the part about how we can’t allow the government to establish a national religion.

If you didn’t see it here it is:

“For every opinion or belief someone may hold there will be another party who just as strong opposes that idea. Both sides usually claim to sit with the best arguments, the real facts and the best world view, and, ironically, both sides regard the other as being indoctrinated, blind to the obvious and outright stupid.”

“I also urge you to look further than mainstream media and, if you can find the time for it, read the Qur'an yourself.”

“Based on what I have learned from the Qur'an, I strongly object to a mosque being built near ground zero.”
I guess I have three thoughts in response to this, and I decided rather than bury it in the comments that I would promote the idea to the front page (at least for today).

The reader assumed I had never read al Qu’ran. I have. Especially the parts of it that are exactly transcribed from the Holy Bible. Yes, there are some disturbing things about al Qu’ran, especially the parts about how Jews are bad, bad people. But then you have to take that in context: the Prophet was persecuted by Jews. He was also aided by Jews and he gave them credit where credit was due. Quite frankly I am disturbed by how someone can interpret writings from the 9th century (and earlier) and conclude that a house of worship should not be built a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. It makes no sense and generally speaks to one’s religious bias.

The Founding Fathers did not have a religious bias.

The Founding Fathers, you see, weren’t Christians, they were Deists. They believed in the existence of a Creator. But since America is and was a country of immigrants, and many of these immigrants were there to escape religious persecution from their own home countries (and some of my immigrant forebears were among that number) they saw the wisdom of putting right there in the First Amendment, right at the beginning of the First Amendment, mind you, the first of the first if you will, the idea that favoring one religion over another, or more precisely, disfavoring one religion over another, was not kosher.

Finally, I find that disfavoring a religion because of what one finds in their holy scriptures is probably not a wise tack to take. Imagine if America were a country dominated by followers of Islam and a minority religious group wanted to build a house of worship 5 blocks from a site that was attacked by people of the same religion as that minority group. Let’s say the attackers were a group of fanatics that were perversely affected by an oil-rich guy who was also an outcast of his own family.

Imagine that, and then imagine someone opposing the construction of their worship facility because they had read this in their holy scriptures of that minority religion:

“Then we turned, and went up the road to Bashan; and Og, the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the Lord said to me, 'Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land to your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.' So the Lord our God gave into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we smote him until not one was left to him. And we took all his cities at that time, sixty cities, the whole region of Argob the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were all fortified cities with high and haughty walls, gates and bars; besides a great many unwalled villages. And we utterly destroyed them as we did to Sihon, king of Heshbon. Utterly destroying every city, men, women, and children. But all the cattle and spoil of the cities we took for booty for ourselves.”
That these people have those words in their holy scriptures would even give me pause. It would appear that these people are a rather bloodthirsty lot.

But then I see my country a little differently than the commenter. I see my country as one that allows people of all the world’s religions to come and live here, become citizens maybe, and worship in the religion of their choice without government interference.

And yes, that passage is actually found within the holy scriptures of a religion that has quite a following. I found it in the third chapter, verses 1 through 7 of the Book of Deuteronomy.

Imagine that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What He Said . . .

I cannot improve on what Washington Post political cartoonist Tom Toles says today about how those whose religion has been protected for 223 years by the 1st Amendment want to deny those same religious rights that they have enjoyed, to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Going to Mosque is not prima facie evidence of being a terrorist or attending IED classes.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Let’s All Boycott Hilton Hotels

When it comes to the Hilton family of hotels I have had some pretty wild mood swings. In 2008 I was so disgusted with the media attention that Paris Hilton got as she entered, and then left the LA County slammer that I promised never to stay at a Hilton or any of its divisions. Then as things heated up in the ’08 election, and Paris Hilton used her family wealth to produce an internet video that slammed John McCain, I apologized.

But now I am so incensed at what Hilton Worldwide has just done that I am urging anyone that will listen to me not to stay at a Hilton or any of the hotels in the Hilton family. The complete list can be found at the bottom of this post.

Why boycott the Hilton?

Speaking just this past Friday at a small business in the DC area, President Obama emphasized that economic recovery wasn’t going to come until we do something about the unemployment rate, currently at 9.5%. Some of those jobs, unfortunately aren’t ever going to come back because of outsourcing.

One-by-one, companies have outsourced things like their customer service centers overseas where cheap labor abounds. Such a thing, you would think, would not be advisable right now. An American company wouldn’t want to shift its customer services overseas right now, not when there is already a problem in the country’s unemployment rate. First, it is counter-productive for our own economy, and second, it just doesn’t sit well with people.

But none of that seems to matter to Hilton Worldwide, which has just revealed that they are going to close an entire worldwide reservation center in California and shift that caller traffic to the Philippines.

When you visit the Hilton’s website one thing you see is how they have turned the name Hilton into an acronym. The “O” in Hilton, they say, stands for Ownership. As in “We are the owners of our actions and decisions.” To which I say fine. By deciding to lay off Americans at a time when it matters, at a time that our economy demands a little patriotism, and deliberately acting to give those jobs to a foreign labor force, the Hilton must be made to own that decision.

They can be made to own that decision if American patriots refuse to stay at Hilton hotels or any of their brands (a list of which can be found below).

Hilton
Hilton Garden Inn
Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn and Suites
Doubletree and Doubletree Guest Suites
Embassy Suites
Homewood Suites
Home2Suites
Conrad
Waldorf Astoria Collection

Obama in Texas Today

In the news today is President Obama’s arrival in Texas to attend two Democratic fundraisers, one in Austin and one in Dallas, and deliver a speech to University of Texas students.

He managed to fit in a meeting with Governor Perry when he lands at the airport in Austin.

So I have been hearing all of these things in the buildup to today’s trip and I still have one question to ask: Why?

Other than showing up from time to time to make a withdrawal from the giant ATM that is Texas, I wonder why Barack Obama is wasting his time here. Especially now that I have learned this morning what will be the essence of his message while here in Texas.

Education.

Education?

When you are highlighting an area of your agenda, that is, to connect the dots between economic success and educational success, maybe it is a better call to deliver the message from a place where there is educational success. Clearly Texas is not the place to do this.

Not in a state where there is a 30% dropout rate. Not in a state that has opted out of the multi-billion dollar federal education program “Race to the Top.” Not in a state that takes $3.2 billion in federal education stimulus money and uses it to balance its budget and add to its rainy day fund.

Not in a state whose state school board makes it a habit to debate things like whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theories should be evaluated by 8th graders. Not in a state whose school board pays consultants to tell them that Thomas Jefferson was of little importance in founding this country, but Joe McCarthy had some good points.

So yeah, come and make that cash withdrawal, and hopefully some of it will spend in local congressional races, but delivering an education speech in Texas?

Spare me.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sue-Happy Texas Republicans

Isn’t it funny that when the shoe is on the other foot Republicans who often fault their opponents with being “sue-happy” are now the ones threatening to go to court if Congress passes HR 1586 this Tuesday – something that they are sure to do.

Republicans, you see, take great pride in their accomplishments over people who get their grievances settled in court, even to the extent of passing torte reform legislation that limits the award a person may receive if they win their lawsuit.

They are actually proud of that.

But now, with Lloyd Doggett’s insertion in the bill of a special consideration that applies only to Texas, Rick Perry and now David Dewhurst have cried foul. In a statement released from San Diego, where Perry continued his luxurious vacation, Perry said this:

“Washington is deft at placing targets on the backs of Texans, and this proposal paints a target on our school teachers and school children.”
Explaining this twist of logic, further on down . . .

Following similar efforts by House Democrats last month, the U.S. Senate has added language to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 1586) that effectively kills about $800 million in federal funding for Texas schools. This amendment mandates that the governor guarantee the Legislature will provide a certain level of state funding through 2013, a funding scheme prohibited by the Texas Constitution. It will be at least June 1, 2011, before the Legislature passes and the Comptroller certifies the 2012-2013 budget. That means Texas – the only state singled out with this mandate – might not be able to use any of these funds provided to states.”
And yesterday Dewhurst threatened to sue. From the Texas Tribune:

“If ‘the Doggett language’ is passed, Dewhurst says he ‘will be delighted to be a named plaintiff’ in a lawsuit against the federal government.”
So let me get this straight. Texas teachers and schoolchildren are the ones who have standing in this lawsuit, according to Perry. But Dewhurst thinks he should be named as plaintiff.

Oops.

Dewhurst has it right. Yes, he (and Perry) should be plaintiffs because “the Doggett language” is basically a salvo fired right over the bows of the SS Perry and SS Dewhurst. They were singled out for a well-deserved public slap down. You don’t take $3.2 billion in federal stimulus money, money earmarked to improve education spending in Texas, and simply switch it out with state funds that were already allocated for education, taking the whole purpose of stimulation and turning it into a joke. You don’t do that and not expect repercussions.

Perry’s ginned up excuse for how this move harms Texas teachers and schoolchildren is just his attempt to take the target that was affixed firmly to the back of his business suit and place it instead on Texas’s teachers and students.

This is clearly reflected in Lloyd Doggett’s reply to Perry’s disingenuous remarks:

“Compliance is very easy, unless there remains a hidden Republican agenda to avoid accountability and to engage in more of the shenanigans of last year, which replaced state education dollars with federal dollars, leaving our schools no better off than if we had done nothing. Instead of concocting phony legalistic arguments to deny our local schools the funds that they so desperately need, Gov. Perry should join with us in support of public education.”
Whipping up specious arguments and threatening to sue. The shoe is truly on the other foot. But AG Greg Abbott is so busy with his other lawsuits against the feds that maybe they need to look around for a good lawyer who is used to filing lawsuits based on invented facts. They might want to find out who was acting in Lindsay Lohan’s behalf when she sued E-Trade for the use of her given name in its “milkaholic” ad.

But don’t ask Lindsay who it was. She’s still in rehab.