Friday, September 30, 2011

Federal Judges to Redraw Texas Congressional District Maps

OK, now this is getting a little weird. Shades of the 60’s. I just finished reading this article at The Chron that the 3 judge panel that is currently hearing the case filed in San Antonio challenging the GOP-friendly congressional district map will be drawing up an “interim map” of Texas congressional districts so that Texas primaries may go ahead unimpeded by timing issues as another court case proceeds in Washington, DC.

From The Chron:
Federal law forbids local elections officials from preparing to implement the new state maps until a federal district court in Washington, D.C., decides whether the redistricting plans passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year comply with the minimum requirements of the Voting Rights Act, a process known as "preclearance.

As I said, shades of the 60’s (and 50’s) when the feds came down hard on Southern states for segregationist laws and policies, imposing a national standard on a backward looking South.

I feel a little like I am living in Selma, Alabama in 1964.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tossing Out New District Boundaries: A Win or a Hollow Victory?

There is a curious piece on the Austin American-Statesman’s Postcards page about the victory that Democrats achieved today when Federal District Judge Orlando Garcia issued an order that blocked implementation of the new GOP-friendly district boundaries – definitely a victory. Definitely.


“The court order signed by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, one of three federal judges hearing legal challenges to how parts of the redistricting process, prevents the new maps from being implemented until the court decides otherwise.”

“The order notes that the maps have not been approved as yet under a section of the U.S. Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Department of Justice, as required. A separate lawsuit over that approval is pending in a Washington, D.C. federal court.”
So yeah, it makes sense to stop all work on implementing the boundary changes because this issue is far from being resolved. The feds may just tell them to go back to the drawing boards like they did before.

But the curious thing is this, On the one hand, State Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has been identified as defending the new boundaries, and on  the other he denies that this is a victory for Democrats because he did not oppose the lawsuit.
“For the plaintiffs to somehow applaud this ruling as a win is like claiming victory at the end of the first quarter of a scoreless football game.”
How this equates to a football game is something that can only be found in the mind of a Texas Republican. This is more than a game. And the fact is, now a federal judge has weighed in on the new boundaries and found them to be at least questionably illegal vis-à-vis the Voting Rights Act.

Redistricting is as inevitable as death and taxes, but not when it involves removing whole ethnic groups from any ability to be represented in state or federal government. In redistricting, you can do an awful lot, but you can’t do that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ISDs Flocking to Join in School Finance Lawsuit

Here in Texas, where schools have purposely been shorted to the tune of $4 billion this year, school districts are resorting to the courts to gain what they are constitutionally guaranteed, funding that is adequate to educate its schoolchildren.

Back in August, it was announced that a lawsuit would be filed. And today I hear that we are close to filing a lawsuit, within two weeks from now, but the effort now is to get school districts to join in the suit. About a hundred have to-date.

The lawsuit will complain that the Texas legislature failed to adequately fund Texas’ public schools, a gross violation of the state constitution. It will also complain about the inequitable distribution of funds between the districts.

The school financing scheme is doubly in violation of the state constitution in that it forbids a statewide tax on property, something that is happening de facto. In response to the legislature cutting school district tax rates to $1.17 per hundred dollars of assessed value, every district in the state charges this maximum. The result is a uniform state property tax, which is illegal.

In 2006 the courts ruled that the state’s school finance law was unconstitutional, forcing the legislature to revise its scheme. So we are due for a repeat performance.

Perhaps this is the only way we can get legislators off their collective behinds and fund public education. It they can go to their constituents and say that they had no choice but to raise revenues because the court ordered them, can they be blamed?

But my guess is that their constituents, by that time will be so tired of being nickel and dimed by their school districts, and having to buy stuff that was once free, and having to outfit classrooms with school supplies that were once provided by the district, they probably won’t give a rip about revenues being raised.

A “free education,” after all, isn’t free.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fun With Rick Perry

Well I knew that as soon as the rest of the country  had a look at the Texas governor it was only a matter of time before they looked beyond the hair and the craggy but suave face and see him for what he really is: a walking, talking disaster area.

Jon Stewart had some fun with him the other night, and a whole bunch of others. In this clip courtesy of the Daily Show we see Rick Perry implode when he tried to expose Mitt Romney’s varying opinion on some issues.


But last night David Letterman weighed in on the chances that Rick Perry is done and his campaign is toast:


Ouch. So today we are hearing that Republicans are fleeing from the entire pack and pounding on the door of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. A man so overweight that he is a poster child for Weight Watchers and Diabetics Anonymous. A man so uncivil that he could vie for first place for the man most likely to be hated for just being him.

A truly interesting year if you are a Republican that cannot bring yourself to vote for the obvious choice to lead America after 2012: Barack Hussein Obama.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama Draws Perry Ire

Rick Perry is shocked, shocked I tell you, that President Obama would turn a Texas disaster into a political attack (others would say, a joke).

From The Chron:


“‘It’s outrageous President Obama would use the burning of 1,500 homes, the worst fires in state history, as a political attack,’ Mark Miner, a Perry presidential campaign spokesman, told ABC.”
Texas is, on average 6 times more wet than California in a normal year. Only this year it isn’t normal, not by half. And some would say that this is an effect of climate change, something that has been noticed by climatologists for decades now.

Something that Rick Perry denies, just as he denies that the earth is older than dirt and evolution has occurred.

So when Barack Obama said this, “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change,” Perry came all unglued. How. Dare. He.

How dare Rick Perry sign a budget that cut back his fire fighting forces by 75% in the worst drought since the Dust Bowl days? How dare he do that in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that increases in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution has significantly added to the heat budget of the planet? Add to that the fact that when you build cities you increase overall temperature due to heat absorption.

Add to that the fact that Earth has a normal cycle of warming and cooling on top of what mankind has done. In short, if we are in a cooling cycle, mankind’s contribution may have canceled that effect. Alternately, if we are in a warming cycle, mankind’s contribution will exacerbate the problem.

Rick Perry is full of foeces. He makes Jim Carey, in “Dumb and Dumber” look like Albert Einstein.

But Rick Perry’s political skills seem to be outstripping his skills at debate. And clearly the GOP is starting to notice (except for the TEA Party whose ilk match his IQ in the double digits).

Too bad. Rick Perry is Barack Obama’s dream opponent.

Only it wasn’t quite true, was it? President Obama was merely pointing out the obvious fact that Texas is undergoing a drought that brings wildfires as anyone from California knows about. In California which is collectively a desert south of Stockton, they get fires, especially during the dry season, but defining wet and dry is different in California. In Cali, if it rains more than 10 inches per year, that’s a deluge.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why Perry Won’t Get the Nomination

In a nutshell in just two minutes during the most recent Republican Presidential Candidates debate in Florida, Rick Perry eliminated himself from further consideration by the vast majority of Republican primary voters.

Here is how he did it:


I have heard it said that when a conservative makes a conservative argument, he or she is only formulating an argument to justify their own greed. Arguing in favor of the higher education for the children of illegal immigrants is not a conservative argument.

But that’s not what really killed Rick Perry’s chances at the nomination although that in and of itself would have been enough. What really killed any chance that Rick Perry would become the nominee occurred at exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds into the clip.
“But if you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than that they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”
Now here is what I know about Republicans and conservatives. They hate being told that they have no heart. They don’t have hearts, but they don’t like being told that they don’t, and I know this to be true because as a liberal progressive I have told them that many times. They don’t like being told that by liberals, but I am willing to bet that they would absolutely hate being told that by one of their own.

Being told by a conservative that they don’t have hearts might just be a little bit more than they can bear because now it’s coming from one of their own, and the truth that they deny might just be true after all.

Nope, Perry is toast and it only took 2 minutes for it to happen.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DOJ Stalls on Voter ID Law

It couldn’t be more predictable. The federal Department of Justice just answered on Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request for preclearance of its recently passed Voter ID law, a necessity since Texas was once in the Confederacy and had statutes in place after Reconstruction that denied African Americans of their constitutional right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act requires all laws that might affect a person’s ability to vote be cleared by the federal government before they may go into effect.

And it seems clear that the DOJ is getting ready to throw a bucket of ice water on this heinous law.

First, they waited until the last possible day to make their reply, and the request for clarification couldn’t be more daunting.

From the Texas Tribune:
The state must now re-submit the request with the additional information that, among others things, describes the federally mandated voter-education program the state will implement, how election officials will be trained to correctly implement SB 14, and more details about the 605,576 registered voters who do not currently possess a valid ID. The department specifically asks the state to identify how many members of that group have Spanish surnames, which counties they reside in and an estimated number by race. The DOJ also requests the Secretary of State provide the number of registered voters in Texas with a Spanish surname who currently possess a legal form of identification.
Finally, they require 60 days to work on this revised proposal once they receive it.

This is the harshest voter ID law in the country. Its intention is completely obvious to even a casual observer. Its intent is to put the Republican Party in power in the state in perpetuity. It specifically targets those who would vote Democratic if they could. The nature and detail of the DOJ’s request makes it clear to me that this is what they suspect as well.

And the fact that this law was part of Rick Perry’s “emergency legislation” in this past legislative session should make for great theater in the presidential debates. But I wonder which candidate, if any, would bring it up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama: States Can Opt Out of NCLB

So because our bickering, non-functional congress cannot agree on a way to make the No Child Left Behind law, a federal disaster if there ever was one, work for us and not against us, President Obama today signed an executive order that allows states to opt out of some provisions of this very bad law championed by George W. Bush, and modeled on a similar law passed in Texas while Bush was the state’s governor.

What makes NCLB a bad law you ask? NCLB assigns such horrible punishment to schools who fail to educate their students that states have lowered their educational standards in order to prevent these punishments from happening. The result? An entire generation of poorly-educated children.

States can now apply for a waiver from these provisions, but there is one condition: states who get approval must adopt stricter educational standards, must raise the bar, as it were.

This is very welcome news, but I wonder whether Texas will be in and among the states to get in line to file a waiver. Because Texas is the birthplace of NCLB and NCLB is the brainchild of a former Texas governor and his wife. Filing for a waiver is tantamount to admitting that the law is wrong, and I don’t think our Republican-dominated government is willing to admit making such a catastrophic mistake like that.

Besides, NCLB really is a veiled attempt to achieve a voucher system in Texas, ending public education as we know it.

So I am going to be very surprised, pleasantly surprised though, if Texas files an application for a waiver. The result? Texas will put itself on the path of delivering a second-hand education while the rest of the states retool and deliver a first class education to their school children once more. Ten years from now we should see noticeable differences, especially as Texas becomes a state where the minimum wage is the rule rather than the exception.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Religion in Retrograde

Now that it is perfectly OK to defend your country and love the man who is fighting next to you with his SAW, or love the woman who serves as your co-pilot in an Air Force transport, it is comforting to note that the religious right, in the person of Rick Perry supporter Pam Olsen is speaking out, saying that the Lord God is going to have none of that.

“He will come and shake at everything that can be shaken,” Ms. Olsen avers.

Believe it.


Good grief. What a concept. All of the sinning going on is going to produce all manner of natural disasters.

What really gets me is that this can ignite people to violent acts against gays. It isn’t enough that they say God is going to punish just the gays for being gay, using laser surgery to extract them from among the straights. What they are saying is that God will punish gays and straights alike for the misadventures of gays. They are saying to straight evangelicals that these gays, doing what they are doing, threaten their very existence.

It is religion in retrograde motion. It is religion going back to the time before Jesus when God had a bone to pick with whole cities in Canaan, smiting them to a man, woman and child.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Texas SBOE Board Member Farney Wants to Buy Another Job

What with the recent announcement that HD 20 State Rep Charles Schwertner will look to move up to the State Senate next year, in his desire to replace State Senator Steve Ogden of SD 5 – Yes, that Steve Ogden, architect of the recent budget bill meant to kill public education in Texas – Marsha Farney, newly elected to the District 10 state school board trustee position, has announced that she will make a try for Schwertner’s vacant spot.

And so it goes here in Deep Red Texas.

It will be recalled that Marsha Farney used her own personal funds, or maybe her husband’s, to the tune of 500 large to first defeat her primary opponents, one of whom was endorsed by Cynthia Dunbar, who was leaving the post after having had her way with the state’s science curriculum. She went on to oppose Dr. Judy Jennings in the 2010 general election, winning that handily because Democrats were in a coma that year.

And now, having tired of that post, an unpaid position that she paid half a million dollars to occupy, Marsha Farney is moving on to greener pastures. And I suppose she will self-fund for that race as well, at least that’s what they wrote in this short piece at the Austin American-Statesman:
“‘Certainly,’ Farney said when asked if she would spend her own money again to run for the House. ‘I’m 100 percent committed to doing this.’”
I’ll bet. Marsha Farney has obviously identified a winning strategy: buy your way into office. It worked before. But wait, this office actually pays a salary. $6500 a year. And then there’s that lucrative per diem when the House is in session. What a deal.

And what does Marsha Farney bring to the House as a skill set?

What indeed.

Big hair?

So now we may have to elect a state school board member to replace her if she should win the seat. A state school board position up for grabs in a special election. Yippee.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Perry Problematic Among Indies

A piece at the “Perry Presidential” blog at the Chron has some polling results from Public Policy Polling that presidential candidate Rick Perry’s campaign has some inherent weaknesses among Independents. This is not a surprise to anyone, but still it’s nice to see that what you suspect might be true, is in fact, borne out by the data.

Rick Perry will win Texas, the poll shows, beating President Obama by 51 to 44%.

Duh.

The only surprise here is that the margin is so low. This is a Texas governor going presidential and he only gets a 51% vote in his own state? A Perry win in Texas is a no-brainer, the article goes on, but what about the margin in other states, swing states where the “Texas Factor” is a non-issue.

“He’s going to win Texas, so his approval numbers don’t matter that much in the overall scheme of the election. But they do raise some red flags about the kind of support he might see in some other places.”
And key to it all are Independent voters. According to the PPP poll, Perry does very poorly with Indies. Independents who approve of Perry were only 32% of those polled, while President Obama received 46% of Independent respondents.

Independents, as always, are going to decide this election, and for Rick Perry, that spells trouble for a positive outcome in November.

Making me wonder whether winning the General Election is actually Perry’s goal. We know from the far right positions he has advanced (except for immigration) he is appealing to the right wingers. And we know why. Right wingers show up at Primary Polls. Independents largely do not.

So I am starting to wonder whether the plan is to get the nomination and then use that to raise an amazing amount of campaign funds that will be necessary to run a presidential campaign. We know that Rick Perry really hasn’t a political bone in his body, and that it is all about getting rich and getting his friends rich, which gets him even richer. Rick Perry is in this whole thing for himself. And now I think I see why he is in this. He is a master of turning campaign funds into personal wealth.

Yep.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two Down and One To Go

I need a hat trick. This past year the Texas Legislature passed some pretty bad legislation. Voter ID, of course, which I discussed previously, The Sonogram Law, also discussed previously, requires that women who seek an abortion, for any reason, have a sonogram done so they can be convinced one last time not to have the procedure done – a law so invasive on several levels that it greatly offends those who are lovers of liberty. And then there was the decennial redistricting where district boundaries were heavily gerrymandered to exclude minorities from having representation in the state house and in congress.

Well, as mentioned previously, enforcement of the Sonogram Law was stayed by Judge Sam Sparks in federal district court, thus eliminating that law that Rick Perry requested as “emergency legislation.” And now, today, we see that the Department of Justice has filed in court a lawsuit that challenges the way the legislature redrew state house and congressional district boundaries, saying that it was done specifically to discriminate against minority voters – voters who usually vote Democratic.

“The Department of Justice weighed in today on the controversial Texas redistricting map that Gov. Rick Perry signed in May and civil rights groups argue intentionally weakens the Latino vote to benefit Republicans. The DOJ signaled their concern that the map discriminates against minorities and therefore violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
That’s two.

Now I am looking for a hat trick. I have been told that September 23rd is a date that is important for the DOJ to challenge the Voter ID Law, arguably the harshest law ever passed anywhere recently that attacks one’s ability to vote in an election. Really. This law makes Jim Crow Laws look like decent treatment in that we know it is all about limiting Democrats’ ability to vote, but its stated purpose is to prevent foreign nationals from voting, a non-existent problem.

I’ve no idea what will occur on the 23rd. It could only boil down to posing additional questions to the state, thus postponing a filing challenging the law as yet another VRA violation.

A filing that seems all but inevitable.

So that’s the three-fer I am hoping for.

But on the other hand, why not go for broke? Why not challenge the constitutionality of yet another bad law passed by the legislature this year? Why not challenge the constitutionality of the biennial budget? This is a budget, passed by a Republican-dominated state legislature that fails a constitutional requirement that public education be fully funded. With an anticipated rise in enrollment, the legislature passed a law that did not cover new students, or old ones for that matter.

So in actuality, I want a four-fer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

California GOP Hearts Ron Paul

So I guess I might have mentioned before that I am a California native living as an expatriate here in southeast Texas. I may have also mentioned my admiration for Californians as being mostly Democratic, and they even have a hefty number of progressives out there.

But it is now obvious to me that just as California’s left tack a little further left through their progressive component; it also seems that California’s right tack a little further right through their Libertarian component. The John Birch Society, after all, has its roots in deep red Orange County.

Obvious to me because of this new California GOP straw poll (they are meeting in a statewide convention in LA this weekend) that has Dr. Ron Paul far in the lead of those who they want to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

No, really. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. Paul garnered 44.9% of all votes cast in the straw poll compared to Rick Perry’s 29.3%. Darn near two to one. And why is this such welcome news? California, the country’s most populous state, has the most convention delegates, by far than any other state. What would have made this sweeter is that California used to be a “winner take all” state in the Republican Party. But it is still pretty sweet that Ron Paul arrives at next year’s GOP convention with a near-majority of California delegates in his pocket.

And don’t believe I want Paul to win the nomination, Perry would be a far more entertaining candidate in an intellectual debate with my President. If Paul got the nomination it will ruin the fun because he actually speaks very well. He’s a smart guy.

Smart, yes. But as cracked as the Liberty Bell.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to Vote in Texas if You Are Not a Citizen

So I was at a couple of Democratic events today, a monthly meeting of the newly formed group Fort Bend Silver Democrats (website can be found here), and then in the afternoon a summit meeting of Democratic county chairs and other interested parties for Texas Senate District 18.

At both meetings, the same guest speaker, a local lawyer who volunteers his services to help people cast their votes, had a presentation on the newly passed but soon to be reviewed (by the Department of Justice) Texas law on voter photo ID.

Soon now, you will not be able to vote in Texas unless you have one of 5 forms of identification: A valid Texas drivers license, a DPS-issued election identification certificate, a United States passport, a US military ID card, and… and … a license to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Department of Public Safety.

Now, of the five forms of identification there is only one that does not require you to produce proof of US citizenship. Guess which one?

And yes, you guessed right. The License to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Department of Public Safety does not include a provision that ensures that the license holder is a citizen of the United States.

Don’t believe me? It’s here.

But I will post the required information to get a conceal/carry license below for those who are averse to clicking.

  • Social security number,
  • Valid driver license or identification card,
  • Current demographic, address, contact, and employment information,
  • Residential and employment information for the last five years (new users only),
  • Information regarding any psychiatric, drug, alcohol, or criminal history (new users only),
  • Valid email address, and
  • Valid credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express)
Can foreign nationals not have any of the above? The answer is a definite no. So if someone wants to live in my country and not be a citizen, the only way that they would be allowed to vote under the new voter ID law is to have applied for and received a valid license to carry a concealed weapon.

I love irony.

And thanks to Don for putting this thought in my mind for further research.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Debunking the Texas Miracle

Last time that I was in California, and people heard that I was from Texas (well, no, I’m not from Texas, I’m from California, but I now live in Texas) they usually had some sort of remark that things in my state were better than they were in theirs. I would disagree, and if allowed would tick off the litany of problems in Texas.

Like a 28 billion dollar budget shortfall.

Like how they were laying off public sector jobs.

Like how that has a multiplier effect because when you lay people like teachers and firefighters they are no longer steady customers and business suffers.

And some listened and were surprised, but some were skeptical. The Texas Miracle, as it is being called, an urban myth if ever there was one, has been well-sold in the media, and as true as it is in science education, it is true in the media, you tend to believe and retain the information that is told to you first. Any attempt to fix mis-information subsequently falls on deaf ears.

Fact: most high school science students believe that the sky is blue because it reflects the ocean. This is because they are told this by an uneducated elementary school teacher or two.

And most people believe in the Texas Miracle.

Well, come to find out, FACT: Texas’s unemployment rate rose by 0.2 % last month. From 8.3 to 8.5 per cent. And guess where those jobs were lost? The public sector.

Those numbers come from the U.S. Department of Labor. The numbers were confirmed by the Texas Workforce Commission, which says the state lost 1,300 jobs in August. Texas gained 8,100 private-sector jobs, but those jobs were wiped out by job losses in the public sector.
So when Rick Perry, who is running on his ability to create jobs, brags about the Texas Miracle, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It doesn’t hold water. He is . . . oh gosh darn it . . .what’s that word?

LYING.

He is lying.

And our governor is really good at lying. If he weren’t he wouldn’t be the state’s longest serving governor. That’s right, Rick Perry has been governor of Texas longer than one of its founding fathers: Sam Houston.

But Sam Houston, they say, was good at drinking. Drinking heavily doesn’t win friends and influence people.

Lying does.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just a Brief Vacay

I apologize to those of you, 6 by my count that come here for an infusion of, I guess it is called, "half emptiness." I have been engaged in other pursuits. Like yesterday when I was hauled out on the carpet by someome who can be arguably considered my best friend, Susan, because I have not done my due diligence at a bank where we will maintain an account specially meant to defeat Republicans. And then today, when I went up north to visit my insurance agent who wanted an update on my rapidly concluding life. (No, no cancer nothing like that, just getting old...Ok?). I promise to post tomorow. I am really interested in a local school district's desire to buy Ipads and laptops for its students. How this happens when teachers are being layed off is beyond me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Much Will Buy Rick Perry?

OK, in last night’s TEA Party debate, Rick Perry got called onto the carpet over his executive order to have all 11-year old females in Texas vaccinated against Human Papiloma Virus (HPV). This has rattled both sides of the aisles as huge government intrusion into what should be a personal decision for parents.

The issue was candy-coated by Michele Bachmann who suggested that Merck’s $5000 contribution was all it took to get Rick Perry to order that the HPV vaccine, an exclusive product of Merck, be purchased by the state, and distributed to hundreds of thousands at state expense.

Perry took umbrage that he could be bought for a “mere” $5000. He was offended.

But the campaign contributions aren’t all of what Rick Perry is about, is it? As it turns out, Rick Perry’s former chief-of-staff, Mike Toomey, is the chief lobbyist for Merck in Texas. Rick Perry is also all about handing out sweet deals. Sweet deals handed out then come back to Rick Perry as other sweet deals.

And Rick Perry has profited on sweet deals from his friends.

One hand washes the other.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Will Rick Perry Learn to Walk Backwards?

Tonight’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate will be held in Tampa, Florida. Get it? Rick “Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme” Perry is going to have to speak to Floridians about this. And the reason that is remarkable is that a good portion of Floridians are transplanted geriatrics…on Social Security.

Rick Perry will have to walk back his inflammatory remarks on Social Security. Remarks that even the likes of Michele Bachmann isn’t willing to make.

No, Rick Perry has some ‘splainin to do, and he is going to have to do it carefully in a calm gentle voice.

Yeah, he needs to leave the defiant bluster in his hotel room.

Think he’s up to it? I’ve never actually seen Rick Perry walk back a simgle remark or opinion in all the time I have been watching him. It’s beyond his ability. It is not in his psychological make-up.

So this is going to be more interesting than watching a TEA Party debate on the defunding of public education. No, that’s really funny. You hear a true TEA partier offer that public education is unconstitutional and then you hear the audience say “Huh? We believe in THAT?”

In short, Rick Perry is darned if he does and darned if he doesn’t. If he doesn’t walk back his Social Security stance he’ll lose the geezers (who vote at every opportunity). If he does he’ll lose the crack pots (who also vote at every opportunity). Let’s see which group Rick Perry values more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 411 on 911

So we have a bit of an anniversary today, the anniversary of the day, ten years ago, when Arab, mostly Saudi Arabian, terrorists hijacked 4 jets and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3000 people.

Thus began what was to be called the Global War On Terror.

And in the intervening 10 years life has changed for Americans.

Like the billions of dollars that were lost on the stock market that very week, one of Osama bin Laden’s stated objectives. He knew it is all about the money.

Like the trillions of dollars that were flushed down the toilet in an unnecessary Iraq War.

Like the tens of thousands of Iraqi lives lost merely be being in the crossfire.

Like going through airport metal detectors in your stocking feet.

Like full body scans and aggressive pat downs.

Like the Patriot Act, an act that was and is a singular attack on American constitutional rights.

Like state-sanctioned eavesdropping on any and all communications.

Like mindless attacks on anyone who looks like they might be from the Middle East (or even India), or who might be a Muslim.

Like the thousands of young American and British lives lost in a war started for no existing rhyme or reason, and the tens of thousands physically and mentally scarred.

911 was an event that caused Americans to rally around a president who then took that support and ran America over a cliff. Osama bin Laden might be fish bait now, or worse, but there is no doubt in my mind that the plans that were hatched 10 years ago today were wildly successful in their ultimate effect.

It changed America and Americans, probably forever.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

There, You Got Your Federal Dollars, Now Shuddup

I heard this morning from Congressman Lloyd Doggett that President had signed a disaster declaration for the burning counties in Texas. Now I see that this is definite as discussed in this article in the Chron.

Now Governor Rick “Fed Up” Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst can finally stop their whining. And the Senate-hopeful Lieutenant Governor can stop trying to reap political capital on the backs of now-homeless Texans.

But I wonder where is Eric Cantor in all of this? Aren’t we supposed to pay for this federal aid somehow? Maybe we should defund NOAA. Maybe paying for all those prescription drugs to keep our aging society out of the grave needs to be reconsidered. They’re really old, you know, and don’t pay any taxes.

One thing I am sure of, though. It is very probable that Rick Perry didn’t pray to Jesus for the President to sign the declaration. Because we know very well what happens when Rick Perry prays to Jesus for anything. Like the last time Rick Perry prayed to Jesus for Him to bring rain, Texas caught fire instead.

Friday, September 09, 2011

And Now David Dewhurst Asks for Federal $$$

Now if it weren’t for the fact that thousands of families in Bastrop County – and elsewhere – have been burned out of their houses I would be laughing aloud over this. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has sent not one, but two letters to President Obama asking that the burning counties in Texas be declared a disaster area.

Thus qualifying Texas for federal assistance.

Like taxpayer dollars.

Dewhurst sent the 2nd letter because he says that there has been no reply from President Obama.

"Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who attended the briefing, said that he wrote a second letter today to President Barack Obama, asking for aid. An earlier one was not answered, he said."
Dewhurst is obviously ignorant of the fact that there is a process and the President has people who handle this and make recommendations to him. Then he declares disaster areas.

Either that, or, more plausibly, David Dewhurst is trying to make political capital over the misfortunes of Texas homeowners who have lost everything in these fires.

He’s running for Senate, you know.

There is nothing lower than someone who tries to grab the microphone for a publicity moment my standing on the shoulders of these poor unfortunate ones. Not even a snake in a ditch is lower than that.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Redistricting Case: Defense Goes for Suspension of Belief

I find it amazing that today, on the day of the first Republican Presidential debate to include the Texas governor, attorneys defending Texas’ redistricting plan are saying that because of new diversity trends in Texas, people of the Hispanic persuasion are less likely to vote for an Hispanic, a race vote they call it, and contend that there are some Hispanics that will vote for Republicans, and, they say to my shocked surprise, there are some white people who will vote for Democrats.

No, really, he said that.

Now while it is true that, nationally, Hispanics have voted for Republicans a third of the time, you have to look at what kind of Hispanic you are looking at. Cubans are also Hispanic, and Floridian Cubans tend to vote for neoconservatives because of their anti-Castro sentiments.

That and they still haven’t gotten over Jack Kennedy’s handling of the landing at the Bay of Pigs.

What is true is that Hispanics do like to vote for Hispanics, and African-Americans do like to vote for African-Americans. Ask Chris Bell if you don’t believe that.

This argument demands a suspension of belief. Hispanics in Texas would be absolutely crazy to vote for a Republican candidate these days, especially with all the rhetoric about immigrants, Sanctuary Cities, and solving the issue of illegal immigrants in Texas.

No, it is completely obvious what Republicans who drew the new congressional district boundaries had in mind. They wanted to take the increase in population, fueled by an increase in the Hispanic demographic, and turn it into a bigger Republican majority in congress by effectively negating the Hispanic vote in 3 out of the 4 new congressional districts. All you have to do is read the newspapers. When Hispanics vote, they vote heavily Democratic – when they turn out – which they didn’t do in 2010. And now, because of that in 3 out of 4 congressional districts, Hispanics are being disenfranchised.

This cannot stand, but I am not holding my breath that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule correctly. I am waiting for the Department of Justice to weigh in on whether the redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act. It does, they will, and another Republican project in the 82nd Legislature will crash into a hillside.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Fed Up With Rick Perry

Presidential candidate Rick Perry, who last year co-authored a book that he entitled Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, apparently isn’t all that “fed up.” According to this article in the Austin American-Statesman, today Rick Perry is “frustrated” that the federal government isn’t sending him the tools, manpower and capability that he feels he needs to fight the numerous wildfires that have sprung up in the past 3 days all over drought-stricken Texas.

From the Austin American-Statesman:
“Three days after fires started to burn in Central Texas, Gov. Rick Perry today expressed frustration that federal firefighting support, including equipment from Fort Hood, has yet to make its way to the firefighters.”
That’s right, Tea Party favorite Rick Perry wants federal assets to come to his aid, and right quick. And in his opinion the fires need to be fought now and “I don’t care who owns the asset.” That’s funny. Not funny ha-ha, funny strange. Because it is completely obvious to anyone who is paying attention that Rick Perry totally cares about who owns the asset. American taxpayers do. We pay taxes, not enough of them, but we do, to buy, maintain and operate these assets. You can’t have it both ways. Perry can’t on the one hand whine about federal intrusion into state affairs, and then on the other whine when the feds are slow to act in intruding into state affairs.

And there’s something else I’m concerned about. Where in the US Constitution does it dictate that the federal government must spring to an individual state’s aid in times of natural disaster? Rick “Read the 10th Amendment” Perry should well-know that “rhe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

As far as I know, the US Constitution does not prohibit the States from fighting fires, so that power is reserved to the States. Were it not for the fact that the federal government goes out of its way to interfere and intrude on states that have suffered a natural disaster like fires, floods and earthquakes, this country would truly be a Libertarian Paradise where YOYO principles rule the day.

YOYO: You’re On Your Own.

So, yes, I am fed up, too. Fed up with Rick Perry.