Tuesday, May 31, 2011

School District Losses by the Numbers

Want to know exactly what SB 1811 is going to do to your Texas school district’s budget? This is a link to a PDF file of one of the documents that Senator Davis read in her filibuster of that bill. A filibuster that all but caused a special session to be called starting today so that the Senate could consider the bill again, but this time without the 2/3ds rule necessary to bring votes to the Senate floor.

In other words, get ready for this bill to sail through the House and Senate.

I looked at my school district’s loss.

Over $27 million over two years. A 3.7% reduction or a loss of $203 per student. At a 24:1 student teacher ratio and 6 classes taught per classroom, that is a net loss to every classroom in my district of nearly $30,000.

This isn’t in any way the worst case scenario. For reasons that I still cannot fathom, each district receives different allocations and have different percent decreases. Scanning down the right hand column it looks like some school districts will suffer a loss of 8.9% of  their M&O revenue, and some districts are barely touched, with only a 1.3% decrease in revenue.

The major metropolitan districts all get hit hard. Austin ISD will be cut by 8.5%, Dallas ISD by 8.6%, and Houston ISD by 8.7%..

I know what you are thinking. They cut the most out of big enrollment districts to get more bang for their buck. Enrollment wasn’t really an issue though.  Note that Cypress-Fairbanks ISD a large suburban district northwest of Houston, has a very healthy enrollment of over 132,000 yet it will receive a 2.5% cutback.

People are saying to call your legislator and let him or her know that they are not to balance the budget on the backs of our school children. And yes, you can go here and find the legislators that represent you and use this toll free number (1-888-836-8368) and call them up.

But if you find that you are represented by a Republican, and most of us are, you’ll just be wasting your breath. These guys are H-E-Double-Hockey Sticks bent on selling your children’s education down the river. It’s true that more Republicans voted with Democrats on passage of the bill in the House, but the ones that didn’t aren’t, how should I say it, persuadable.

No, the best use of your time is to show up at the polls next year in high numbers and vote with the same righteous wrath that people voted in 2010 against Barack Obama (who wasn’t even on the ballot).

Monday, May 30, 2011

“This puts the budget in a crisis.”

I actually burst out laughing just now as I sat at my desktop PC and read this piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. At the very bottom of the article Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst presented his reaction to State Senator Wendy Davis’ bill-killing filibuster last night:
“Dewhurst said that he was ‘very disappointed’ and that the action could have far-reaching ramifications. ‘This puts the budget in a crisis,’ he said.”
Gee, do you think the Jr. Governor has a point?

The truth of the matter is, it has been apparent to a lot of us for a while now that the state’s budget has been in crisis mode ever since Susan Combs issued the expected budget/revenue shortfall announcement. A revenue shortfall that was denied and denied again by Rick Perry especially during the 2010 campaign season.

But now Dewhurst acknowledges what is obvious to the rest of us. The budget is in a crisis. But not because Republicans have cut taxes again and again and have failed to collect the revenue required to run the state. Not because one business after another gets to pay no taxes just so the governor can say he has attracted business to the state as a result.

Not at all.

It is in crisis now because of that State Senator from Fort Worth.

Now Perry must call the legislature into a special session. And I am left wondering whether with the super Republican majority in both the State House and Senate, Democrats will be able to get some business tax loopholes closed or get more cash out of the Rainy Day Fund.

In other words, pass a balanced budget responsibly. Passing it responsibly without doing physical harm to Texas’ system of public education.

I guess it depends on who blinks first.

Fillibuster Kills SB 1811

When State Senator Wendy Davis (D – Fort Worth) picked up the microphone at last night who knew that she would spend the next hour or so reading constituent letters, her victory speech and reciting reams of data on how much less school districts were going to receive on account of SB 1811.

Who knew that in doing so, talking until past , that Wendy Davis effectively killed this bill so malevolent to public education?

I took a look at it earlier today. It is one of those bills that is jam packed with unrelated things, but the thing that really catches your attention is the rescheduling of what percentage the state sends funding to the school districts, and when that happens. It essentially pushes back the funding allowing the state to keep its money longer.

Allowing the school districts to be put on a starvation diet.

You see, it wasn’t enough that the legislature allocated $4 billion less to public education than it did in the previous budget. They get there with SB 1811 by rescheduling the payments even into the next budget cycle.

Killing this bill essentially kills the education budget.

Democrats are essentially telling the Republican super majority to get it right, to do right by the state’s 4.5 million schoolchildren, or else.

Get it right Reps and Senators, or it’s summer school for you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Texas Budget Bill Passes

96 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted for Texas’ 2-year budget last night, making it official that, among other things, the state will decline to support its 4.5 million school children with the public education that will be necessary to compete with the rest of the world in the future.

In fact, it is a bit ironic that one way the Republican plan accomplishes this shortchanging of the next generation is to defer payment for current obligations into the next budget cycle, reminding me of the famous quotation by Popeye’s good friend Wimpy: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

Another odd thing about this budget is that its passage was based on passage of yet another bill, SB 1811, a bill that further enables “living within our means” by bumping payment of $3.5 billion to schools into the next budget.

How, I ask myself, can this kind of budgeting process in any way be seen as responsible? Be seen as “the right thing for Texas” as stated by Republican State Rep Myra Crownover. Unless by “right” she means rightwing.

But it isn’t even that. When you hear the word “rightwing” the words fiscally conservative come to mind. This bill in no way resembles something that a fiscal conservative would pass. This is one of the most irresponsible budget bills ever.

Republicans felt enabled to pass such a monstrosity because of the elections in 2010. State Rep Jim Pitts, the chef budget writer referred to “results of the Republicans' overwhelming victory in November as a mandate to close the gaping budget hole without imposing new taxes” as the reason they felt they could do this thing.

In other words, elections matter.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Disinviting Jesus

We had a minor dustup here last week when the director of the Houston National Cemetery asked the Christian pastor, who would be offering up a prayer during this Monday’s Memorial Day Observance, not to mention Jesus.

Now I know lots and lots of Christians, and I know for a fact that when religion comes up in polite conversation they cannot avoid saying the word “Jesus.” It is antithetical to their very existence not to.

So asking a Christian pastor not to say the word Jesus in a prayer over the fallen is just a little over the top you would think.

Here in the Bible Belt? Over the top.

So I was surprised that the cemetery director actually made the request. A request that the pastor take into account that not all of the fallen soldiers that they are going to honor on Monday were Christians. That’s not what we do here in The South. Here in The South religious intolerance is the rule, not the exception.

So I was not surprised to read that the pastor took umbrage at the director’s request, and filed suit. Filed a lawsuit so he could go ahead and say the word “Jesus” just one time in his prayer.

That pastor is going to by God say the word “Jesus” come H-E-Double Hockey Sticks or high water.

The Veterans Administration decided that it was just too much to deal with and really didn’t want to get involved in this guy’s business so it backed off.

So now, the pastor can say “Jesus” in his prayer on Monday.

I suspect, though that this is the last time this guy will be invited to speak at a Memorial Day Observance.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ahmona Thank About It . . .

That is what Governor Rick Perry of Texas said in reply to a reporter’s question on whether he was going to run for president in 2012.

And that’s how he said it, too.

I would like it if he would think about it, and absolutely love it if he ran. I can’t think of a better way to remind American voters that the last time they elected a sitting Texas governor America went from a country running in the black to one deeply in the red with two wars in the Middle East. America inherited Texas’ penchant to spend money it doesn’t have, it also inherited a much-hated Texas’ program, an unfunded mandate on school districts called No Child Left Behind.

In fact, they will be reminded of all of that every time he opens his mouth.

"Ahmona thank about it."

Rick Perry would not be the first Texas governor to run for President, but I do believe that he would be the first Republican to run for president who was once a Democrat. It is ironic that these days he is billed as a rightwing conservative that would attract the Teabagger vote. Rick Perry’s social and political views are 100% contrived. He is the complete flavor-of-the-day politician who believes in whatever will allow him to stay in office.

When he switched parties in 1989 it was only because the writing was on the wall that Republicans were on their way to power in Texas.

So it will be fun to see what happens between all the candidates as they vie for the votes of the right wing – also known as primary voters. Teabaggers can’t remember what they had for breakfast let alone remember that Perry was once a Democrat.

It will be fun to see how many times they get reminded of that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

6 Vote Shy of Mission Accomplished

I was amazed to learn this evening that an amendment to a military appropriations bill in the House, HR 1540 offered by Congressman McGovern came to  within 6 votes of passage today.

And what was McGovern’s amendment?

It was an amendment to finally and once and for all end America’s military involvement in Afghanistan, and to bring our troops home.

It was an amendment that recognizes what we have all come to realize, that the goals for going into Afghanistan have all been met. The Taliban is out of power, al-Qaeda has but a handful of individuals in Afghanistan – certainly not enough to make much of an impact, and Osama bin Laden is now fish food.

Mission creep is what has kept us there. Constant redefinition of why we fight.

Afghanistan will always be what it was – a backward nation where warlords and corruption are the rule rather than the exception. Why fix something that has not worked since Alexander the Great tried his hand at taming this beast?

But we came within 6 votes of ending this whole mess. 6 votes.

Republicans mostly voted against the amendment, naturally. They had 8 Democrats voting with them. Ironically, Democrats who voted for the amendment had 26 Republican voting with them. And all we needed was 6 more votes.

12 congressmen, 6 on each side, declined to vote. One of them was Gabrielle Giffords who pretty much doesn’t vote on anything thanks to that maniac in Tucson. But some of the others were definitely in the room.

Oh, and how did my congressman, Pete Olson, vote on this? No of course.

Here is what I say. The next soldier who dies in Afghanistan, and I hope this doesn’t happen but I know it will, the next soldier who dies, well Pete Olson gets to be the person responsible for his death. Not the guy who built the IED, or buried it. Not the guy who pulled the trigger or launched the RPG. Not him. Not them.

Pete Olson gets to be blamed for that death.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh Hell, They Seated the Jury (Yes!)

I think I mentioned awhile back that I was called to Jury Duty recently in Fort Bend County. Well now today I saw in the news that the jury for the trial that I and 300 of my fellow citizens were called up for has been seated.

So I guess I can talk about the trial now.

And read the newspapers about it.

The trial that I was called up for was the case of Albert James Turner who is charged with a double murder. You can read about the particulars of the case at FortBendNow. I honestly don’t remember reading about this and I read the news every day. Murders and stuff like that don’t get above my radar I guess.

This was the chance of a lifetime to sit on a jury in a major case. And because it was going to take place in June if I was going to be seated as a juror (I had a June 9th interview appointment) timing would be practically perfect for me. A great experience and a great way to spend summer vacation not watching the grass grow.

I did have some misgivings, though. As a progressive liberal I oppose the death penalty in all of its forms, especially here in Texas where innocents have been put to death. Where they try and kill the mentally retarded. Where they do kill men with evidence based on bad science. This guy, Turner, allegedly stabbed two women and then allegedly ran off and hid. If he gets a guilty verdict, chances are they will elect to send a chemical cocktail into his artery.

I was not sure I wanted to be a part of that. I would have preferred to see him spend the next 40 or so years in a 4 X 8 cell with a roomate named Tyrone who has tastes and temptations that run on the wild side.

So I had an interesting mixed reaction to hearing the news that I wouldn’t be a juror in that case.

Ever been sadly elated?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Houston, We Have an Upset

My favorite periodical of all time had the news. Kathy Hochul has won the NY-26 seat tonight in a special election to replace that Republican family values guy who posed on Craig's List to attract young things outside of his marriage.

MSNBC projects Kathy Hochul as the winner at this hour.

NY-26 has been red as an Irish Setter since  forever.

The Ryan plan to kill Medicare was the clear issue that killed an easy win for a Republican in a district that has voted Republican since Noah's Flood. This has enormous implications in 2012. How we Democrats can keep this issue going in 2012 is paramount. Republicans voted to destroy Medicare this year. They are on record as voting to end the most favorite federal program of all time. They can back peddle all they want. The record is the record.

What? You Republicans want to kill my Medicare?

Not on my watch.

Do not vote Republican in 2012. They want to end the Medicare benefits that you have been paying into for years and years. They put people in jail for robbery. Why not these people?

Texas Judge: Transgender Women Aren’t

Well if it is at all possible, Texas, through Wharton County judge Randy Clapp, just became a little redder, and just a little meaner

According to a KHOU report (video embedded below) Judge Clapp ruled that Nikki Araguz was not legally married to Thomas Araguz because when she was born, Nikki was, biologically, a little baby boy. And because Texas has a constitutional amendment that forbids the marriage of two people of the same sex, the marriage was invalid.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that Nikki Araguz is totally hot?

Before her husband died in a fire that he was fighting last year, Nikki Araguz was named as the beneficiary on Thomas’ death benefits. This was the will and desire of Thomas Araguz. But Judge Clapp abrogated Thomas Araguz’ decision to provide security for his heart’s desire should he lose his life and awarded the benefits, $600,000 by the way, is nothing to sneeze at, to his children of his ex-wife. The wife, I guess, that was born a baby girl.

This is new territory, I think. The judge has just broken new ground in the attack of conservatives on the Transgender. People who feel so strongly about their own mis-assigned sexuality that they submit themselves to radical and life-changing surgeries.

This is a tragedy and a travesty of justice, not only for Mrs. Araguz, but for a heroic firefighter who gave his life so a chicken ranch wouldn’t burn to the ground. This is a judicial intrusion in the personal lives of people both living and dead.

This cannot stand.

Oh, and did I mention how it is deliciously ironic that we have a judge in Texas whose surname is Clapp? What do they say when he has a case?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rick Perry's Illegitimate Love Child

My friend Susan was quoted in "The Nation" this week.

This is an impressive feat for a blogger, or even a not-a-blogger as Susan claims, and I am glad to write that I know her and she has helped me become a better blogger over the years. And yes, while Susan is "not a blogger" I am because only 6 people read my blog and none of those 6 take any of my advice or suggestions.

Here is what "The Nation" quoted Susan as writing in her not-a-blog with regard to Texas' new spending levels for public education.
"Texas is setting a new standard by setting new lows."

I quite agree and have stated and restated my case on this here over and over again in recent weeks. It is, in fact, the number one subject that has occupied my mind since we all found out that the GOP-run state government has been spending more than it was taking in, and doing so in proportions that can only be described as "Californian." In California they have a law that says that the budget must be passed by a 2/3ds majority so you don't even have to be in the majority in California to run its economy into a ditch.

In Texas, you still do.

So I think this cartoon by Nick Anderson published last Friday in the Houston Chronicle has some bite to it and I wanted to post it here in case any of my 6 readers missed it.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Daniels Won’t Come Out and Play Either

Unbelievable. CNN is reporting today that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will not be joining the ever diminishing crowd of GOP presidential hopefuls to challenge Barack Obama next year.

I was actually counting on him running.

All we have at this point is Newt Gingrich, who at this point won’t be able to punch his way out of a wet paper bag he is so completely compromised, Republican/Libertarian Congressman Ron “Dr. No” Paul, and Herman Cain, the so-called “Colin Powell of the restaurant industry.” Cain is a African-American Tea Bagger. Rare as hen’s teeth.

Expect that number to increase to 4 tomorrow when former governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty throws his hat into the ring.

There are four others who have declared their candidacy including Jimmy McMillan, the guy who ran for mayor of New York City on the Rent is Too Damn High ticket.

Still staying clear of the fray for now is Mitt Romney who enacted a successful state healthcare program that now hangs around his neck like a dead albatross.

And now, since Mike Huckabee the darling of the evangelical right has declined to run, I expect the void to be filled by the crazed congresswoman from Wisconsin.

Evangelicals are going to need someone to vote for so they don’t have a candidate from the Church of Latter Day Saints. Yes, like Mitt Romney, John Huntsman hasn’t a prayer of getting the nomination since GOP primary voters are mainly from the evangelical right. Besides, wasn’t he a member of the Obama Administration?

In short, it looks positively miserable for the GOP.

I couldn’t be happier.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Texas House Passes Education-Destroying Budget

Voting strictly along party lines, the Texas House passed a budget plan that will slash $4 billion in funding for public education. Voting on SB 1811 today, 100 Republicans (the Speaker didn’t vote) ensured that public education in Texas, currently ranked 44th out of 50 in the country, will surely drop to 50th place within the next two years.

There will have to be a conference to work out differences between what the Senate has previously passed, and this bill. One troubling aspect of the bill is an amendment that businesses wouldn’t have to pay the business tax, the main revenue getter in the state, if they didn’t make a profit. That, according to this report, would cost the state an additional $2 billion.

The bill got 44 No votes. All Democratic.

Ironically, as the bill was voted on, a crowd of parents, teachers and administrators stood just outside the capitol building in another Save Our Schools rally. Equally ironically, people in the crowd, upon hearing of the bill’s passage, were relieved. Said one protester:
At this point, the Senate version is what we were looking for. We'll be happy on some levels with this, but things are still going down the tracks in the wrong way.
Agree on the last point. This bill is a train wreck. But to be happy about this is to be happy that public education in Texas just took a big hit.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is It Illegal to Say “Gay” In Tennessee?

It was in the news last night that apparently the Tennessee state legislature has passed a law making it illegal to say the word “gay” in Tennessee. And things are getting so nutty in this country, I didn’t even question the veracity of that bit of news.

Of course, backward backwoods Tennessee would enact such a law.

It even got Mr. Sulu back in the news as he has launched a new website at Itsoktobetakei.com. There’s a hilarious video at You Tube of Mr. Sulu, aka George Takei, who has offered his own name in place of the word “gay.”

But when I googled the keywords “Tennesee sb 49” I found a link to a PDF of the bill that just passed in their state senate. It is here.

And there is nothing in the bill about the word “gay.”

The bill just forbids discussion of non heterosexual human sexuality in elementary and middle school. Here is the key section:

“Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality”
See? It is still OK to say “gay” in Tennessee. You just can’t say it to a child in school between the ages of 5 and 14.

So what’s my point? It goes back to what I wrote at the top. Things are utterly bat guano crazy right now because the rightwing idiotic fanatics have truly taken over at many levels of government these days. Things are so crazy right now that if someone writes that “it’s illegal to say ‘gay’ in Tennessee” something so crazy and something so factually inaccurate, that it is thoroughly believable.

A sad comment on our times.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank Newt Gingrich for Defining Republicans for Us

I never thought I’d say this, but I will be forever grateful to Newt Gingrich for speaking out this past week over rightwing Republican social engineering. He was absolutely spot on the money.

Republicans are attempting an effort to radically dismantle all of the good things that Democrats have put in place to improve our lives for the past 50 years, and Newt Gingrich called them out on the carpet about it.

And then when he got the equivalent of a bitch slap in the rightwing press and caught on camera getting his hand shaken and his nose punched (figuratively) at the same time he went on camera again and denied that he was ever against the Ryan budget plan which also calls for the dismantling of Medicare, America’s single most favorite federal program.

In fact he would have voted for it if he was a congressman.

Thank you, Newt Gingrich for pointing out again what we Democrats have come to realize, that if you are a Republican Party office holder right now, you are in favor of dismantling America’s favorite public service. That should play well with voters in 2012.

Here is the web ad that the DNC came out with today.

Newt, stay in the race. We all need you running for president, busily shooting cannon balls into the deck, defining the Republican Party in such a way that no Democrat could do, because no one would believe it if it came from us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting For The End

Last Thursday was the last day for a bill introduced in the Texas State House to be heard on second reading. Any bill that does not make that deadline is considered “dead.” The much-hated HB 400 the bill to increase class size, allow school districts to decrease teacher pay and use work furloughs to decrease expenditures is now a “dead” bill.

Dead, unless its author, Rob Eissler, finds still “live” bills to amend with elements that were found in his bill. Something that Eissler has now promised he would start actively looking for.

This gives me pause. Eissler is now going to resurrect his “dead” bill by working harder. In one fell swoop his “dead” bill would have had a devastating effect on teachers statewide. Now he wants to work harder to get his bill back to being “undead.”

He wants to work harder to make the lives of teachers even more difficult than it already is.

I really don’t think Eissler really appreciates teachers. I really don’t. And as a classroom teacher, I am offended that someone would redouble his efforts to see that my life is made even more uncomfortable than it already is.

It really makes me want to just pack it in and quit the teaching profession altogether and forever.

Then, thinking about all of this on my way home tonight, on comes another great song by Linkin Park. I was amazed at how the lyrics exactly matched the thoughts that were going through my head at the time.

Amazing. This has happened twice now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Million More for Fort Bend ISD?

I’m still skeptical that school districts will see one penny of the $830 million federal education dollars that the US Department of Education recently approved for Texas with the repeal of the Doggett Amendment.

Still skeptical.

Why would Rick Perry alter his MO and do the right thing for Texas public education? Why, when he virtually robbed public education of $3 billion in 2009 in the budget shell game he played with that money.

But according to this article in FortBendNow, the FBISD CFO seems confident that based on the district’s Weighted Average Daily Attendance number, the district should receive ten of that $830 million.

I am the other way, and tend to doubt that the district will see any of that. But if by some remote chance I should be proven to be wrong and the funds come rolling in, then I would like to suggest an answer to what the district CFO doesn’t know the answer to: what to do with that extra funding.

Rehire the RIFed.

Classroom Teachers being the priority.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Senate Votes Overwhelmingly for Use of Rainy Day Fund

I read about it this afternoon in The Chron. The State Senate of Texas voted 30 For and 1 Against using $4 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to close the funding gap that exists between what is needed to “make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools”– a constitutional mandate – and what they are actually going to authorize.

So an $8 billion funding gap becomes a $4 billion funding gap if only the Senate can get the House to agree.

Something I highly doubt will happen. And why is that? Well the Senate, aside from Senator Dan Patrick, is devoid of Tea Party Republicans. The Senate still has that overwhelming Republican majority, but aside from Patrick, none of them ascribe to Tea Party principles.

The House doesn’t have that. In the House, Teabaggers proliferate. Teabaggers want something for nothing. Or worse, they want to privatize public education. That way they can cut their taxes even more.

Even though it is constitutionally mandated that the state provide a public education.

Well we already know that, since they are already not funding public education adequately, that part of the Texas Constitution, Article 7 Section 1, is like the English monarchy, mainly symbolic and ceremonial.

It’s like the Framers wanted to say that they are for education because “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people” but actually paying for it, really going all the way and fully funding education, well gee, not really.

Actually, the Framers were only kidding.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Getting Ready for the Rapture

According to a former civil engineer who runs an evangelical radio station called Family Radio, The Rapture, an event prophesized in Thessalonians 4: 15-17, is all set to occur this next Saturday, May 21st.

The engineer, one Harold Camping, sat down one night a few years ago and did some number crunching, only to come to the startling conclusion that The Rapture is date certain. This despite the promises of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, that no one will know but Almighty God when it will occur.

That notwithstanding, and despite the fact that Camping has previously put down another bet on the date of The Rapture, September 6th, 1994, thousands are getting their affairs in order and packing their bags for Saturday.

Not me. I have other plans on that day. Besides, anyone with half a brain knows that The Rapture is not going to happen this Saturday. Long before Harold Camping got out his TI 82 and pounded some numbers into it, Sir Isaac Newton, you know, the guy who invented Calculus, did some number crunching of his own and came to the conclusion that Judgment Day will not occur until 2060.

So who are you going to believe? Harold Camping or Sir Isaac Newton. Harold or Sir Isaac?

Yeah, I know, tough one.


Well, one of the candidates that I endorsed actually won her race on Election Day, and won it handily. Congratulations to Julie Thompson for her stunning win in her race for District 4 Lamar CISD Board of Trustees. Numbers were low, but you can’s sneeze at a 85.95% to 14.05% result.

Lamar CISD is lucky to have her.

Not so lucky is Fort Bend ISD. Fort Bend does not get to benefit from the insightful wisdom of Dr. Jonita Reynolds.

By 52 plus 1 votes.

I am still a little in shock.

All of the other results were predictable. People are upset and angry.

But here is the thing that should be the biggest news of the entire election. Fort Bend County had 300,715 registered voters the last time I looked, in 2008. If you look at the voter totals for the elections that were held county-wide, in all races, we see that 16,771 Fort Bend County voters bothered to vote in this election. That is a 5.58% voter turnout.


Letting one person make choices for 19 others. That’s just pitiful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Osama’s Penchant for Porn

Is anyone surprised at the titillating news of yesterday that the Navy SEAL team that invaded Osama bin Laden’s hiding-in-plain-sight compound recovered a big box of pornographic videos from bin Laden’s bedroom?

Really, what is the difference between this and, say, finding a copy of a Playboy magazine stuffed between the mattress and box spring of a 13 year old boy’s bed.

The whole radical Muslim thing?

All this does is underline how similar we all are. In a time when the radical right beats their chest about how “Islamofascists” are inherently different from Christian evangelicals, I have to just point to Osama’s porn stash as proof in the pudding that there is little difference between us.

As a matter of fact, I would go you one better and say that if you have strong religious feelings to the extent that you want to want to push your belief system on others, the chances are very good that you like to watch videos of naked ladies.

The man may have been a monster who masterminded the deaths of thousands over the past 10 years, but in the end, he was a human man who lived a lie just like the religious sexoholics who currently serve in state legislatures and congress. Just like the evangelicals who pound on the Holy Bible with one hand, and pound on some other thing with the other.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Force Is Strong With This One

My friend Dave pointed out something to me yesterday and I immediately saw the need to put up a blog post about it. Then Blogger decided to take the day off and I couldn’t do the post.
It’s still a good idea though and although not as timely as it would have been yesterday, I still want to do the post so here goes.

Remember back a little over 3 weeks ago when Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation that over the Easter weekend that Texans of all faiths should pray to the deity of their choice for Him, Her or It to bring rain to the dry Texas plains?

His reasoning, I guess, was that if all of the various deities receive enough prayers they will pool their resources and get the thing done. I threw in my two cents with my prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And how much rain did we get?

Bupkis. Nada.

And then who should come to Texas for a few short hours in Air Force One, flying right over the drought-stricken area – twice – this past Tuesday but President Barack Obama.

And what happened a mere 36 hours later?


Say what you want about him, The Force is strong with this one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Country For Black Presidents

So my president, President Barack Hussein Obama visited my state yesterday. The so-called Republic of Texas. The only one of the 50 states to enter the Union by treaty.

We are a really weird state, populated by really weird bat guano conservative people. I have no idea why the president would spend any time here at all, but then you have to look at his agenda and where he spent his time.

El Paso and Austin.

El Paso and Austin are to Texas as West Hollywood is to the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). As oil is to water.

Barack Obama visited the only two parts of the state that are considered sane. And by sane I mean are Democratic strongholds. And in doing so he put his card in the Democratic ATM and withdrew $2 million. I don’t begrudge him that. If we Texans can’t deliver votes for him in this crazy state, at least we can deliver for him the dead presidents that appear on our banknotes.

So he can get it done in other states that are not so crazed.

Nick Anderson caught it exact I think, on his Chron cartoon today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Throwing Tom Under the Bus

Now I don’t really know why the state legislature just passed a bill that would strip state pension benefits from lawmakers and former lawmakers who are convicted of a felony (or two). Maybe it is spending cuts. After all the state pays into the pension fund and the less the outgo, especially to people who were such bad legislators that they became felons in the commission of their jobs, the better it is for the state’s budget.

Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. All I know is that the convicted felons that this article in the Austin American-Statesman names, these guys who would be affected, may not be the only ones who have been in the news of late.

Isn’t Tom DeLay a convicted felon? Convicted of two counts of conspiracy? Tom DeLay is also a former state rep. Isn’t this the kind of guy the bill is meant to cover?

Did the Republican supermajority in the legislature just throw Tom “The Hammer” DeLay under the bus?

Seems like it to me.

So in addition to spending some time in the slammer, it looks like Tom DeLay is also going to be deprived of his state pension.

All the more reason for his high-priced lawyers find some way to get DeLay’s conviction overturned on appeal.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Trains, Trains, Trains!

We all have Republican Florida governor Rick Scott to thank for the Obama Administration’s announcement today that it was repurposing a whopping $10 billion that was going to be spent in Florida on a $10 billion high speed rail initiative.

Scott told the Obama administration “Thanks but no thanks” to this free money because he didn’t want Florida’s taxpayers to be “on the hook for future operation costs.”

Oh, and this might bring more jobs to Florida. More jobs, more taxpayers. More joy.

Certainly can’t let Obama bring joy to Floridians. That’s Rick Scott’s job.

So the Obama administration is spreading the wealth around a bit - and the joy. A new list of projects to be funded for future high-speed rail starts with $800 million toward a Boston-Washington corridor project, then a Chicago-Detroit project and a Chicago-St. Louis project to the tune of $400 million, and $300 million for a Los Angeles-San Francisco project.

These were smart choices as they all link metropolitan areas with currently operating light rail systems (Detroit is just in the process of getting one going).

They are also smart choices because they are all in Democratic or leaning Democratic regions. Teabaggers don’t want federal dollars? Fine. They spend just as well in blue states.

High speed rail is long overdue in America. Our rail system has literally not been upgraded in decades. And the cost saving in terms of fuel burned per passenger makes this a much more efficient transportation system than regional airline routes.

Oh, and speaking of regional airlines. If you have any stock in them, time to move it to gold.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

AL Green Speaks for Teachers and Education

The keynote address at yesterday’s Rally for Fort Bend Education was Congressman Al Green of the 9th Texas Congressional District. The 9th District covers the east side of Fort Bend County.

Al Green as a speaker is as inspiring as he is inspirational. I videoed the entire speech but I shaved off the preliminaries and also where, toward the end, we all got in a circle, joined hands, and sang – off key for the most part – “God Bless America.” I will spare you of having to go through that.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Heard this one on the car radio today as I was driving home from the Rally to Save Fort Bend Education. On my mind at the time was the tens of thousands of teachers who are being laid off next year due to the short-sightedness of the Republican-dominated state legislature.

This is for all of the teachers who will need to find another way to make a living.