Monday, October 31, 2011

Teacher Pay for Performance Goes to New Lows

Oh Good God.

One of my six readers sent me a link to this Huffingtonpost article on what the State of Idaho has done to the public and charter school teachers in its 29 school districts.

Pay For Performance, a concept begun in the private sector, has been revamped in Idaho so that performance pay is based on several key indicators.

One of them being how parents feel about their children’s teachers.

That’s right, parents get to vote on what teachers get for bonus performance pay. They list several key factors that should go into the parents’ decisions, like communication: notes and phone calls to the home as well as parents attendance at parent-teacher conferences.

That is, one factor that is totally in the control of a teacher, and one factor that a teacher has absolutely no control over. The standard is that teachers must get a 40% attendance rate in order to qualify for the maximum bonus in that area.

Forty percent is dreamworld for most of us.

But really, what you have to realize is that these standards will not be followed, will they? How will parents rate their children’s teachers then? Grades. Grades are the local currency in public schools, and teachers who try and challenge their students by demanding only the very best out of them will suffer the most in this scenario.

Teachers who pass out A’s and “free 100’s” like Jesus passed out the loaves and fishes will most certainly be at the front of the pack in receiving bonus checks.

This is a scenario that promotes mediocrity and further lowering of the academic bar.

Watch out Texas, Idaho is vying for last in education along with Mississippi.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Obama Foreign Policy Goes Unanswered

It continues to amaze me that the issues that haunted the 2008 election have failed to emerge in the just beginning 2012 campaign season: chiefly issues of foreign policy.

Foreign policy was all what it was about in the Democratic primary. The “It’s ” television ad was a brilliant hit piece that inserted the notion that as president, Barack Obama would be ineffectual and indecisive.

McCain used that very tack in the fall campaign, touting his military service that consisted of, need I remind anyone, getting his Phantom shot out from under him and getting captured by a 3rd rate military.

But when you try to get a handle on what the current line-up of Republican presidential wannabes say about what foreign policy should be, all you hear are crickets.


Foreign policy is not this group’s strong suit. And that is probably a good thing for them since it does not appear that Americans are overly concerned about any non-domestic issues right now. But early on, all you heard from the right wing is about how President Obama was a pushover in the international scene.

Then he launched a murderous campaign to decapitate Al-Qaeda, topple Middle East dictatorships, and continue to maintain a presence in Iraq up to, and just until the deadline to leave Iraq will be reached later on this year – a deadline set by the previous administration, I might add.

Nope, Nick Anderson has it exact, I think. Republicans will not be showing up to debate on foreign policy anytime soon, simply because they have no credentials or credibility in this area.

Beckie-beckie-stan-stan. Give me a break.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yankee Whoamon Gonna Vote Fer Mitt

O-cheut! A tarbul thang gist happint tuh th’ chaynces thet Rick Perry has to be Presdent ah the Yew Nahted Staytes.

Sum Yankee Whoamon up nawth in N’Hampshure, thuh dadgum sayme whoamon who flew on down to thuh grayte stayte a’ Teksus sum tahme ago to urge thet goodolboy Rick Perry tuh run fur Presdent has endoarsed, instudda haym, thet otha gah. Mitt Romney.

Thet whoamon, Maureen Mooney, gist put the braykes on Perry, whuch ah bleeve weel probly mayke paypul in N’Hampshure thank twahs abut votin’ fur haym

Ah red about et hair.

Hairs whut she sayed:
“This is Mitt’s tahm n’ this is his yair. He has bayen a frayen of N’Hampshure fur yairs nah n’ is vury sportive of thuh N’Hampshure Publican Party, candates locly, the counteh and stayte. Furthmore, he daimonstraytes a shurpness en evry debayte way have seen haym en thet wayell match up wayul agin Barack Obama. Thet is precahsely whut we nayed.”
Thet’s a lil’ code, ah thank. Speshuly saince thayer bolth gonna bay et th’ sayme ee-vent tanaht in N’Hampshure.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the Confederate Flag on a Texas License Plate

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is moving on ahead in his desire to issue a new vanity license plate in Texas, a vanity plate featuring the Confederate flag – the so-called “Stars and Bars” flag that is such an unique symbol of Southern oppression of African-Americans. Today he urged the governing board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to approve his tag “at their leisure.”

Like right now.

Right now because it appears that Texas governor Rick Perry is opposed to the tag. Not officially, mind you, just a personal opinion.

This is such a thinly concealed attempt to bring a hated symbol back to Texas’ highways and byways, it is laughable. It reminds me of the War Memorial on the south lawn (naturally) of the state Capitol. It’s a memorial dedicated to Southern Confederate soldiers who fought for, get this, state’s rights.

No, really. It’s there. I think I remember seeing that it was dedicated at the end of the 19th century, when Texas was an unrepentant and unreconstructed racist haven (kind of like these days).

Here’s a distance shot of the memorial.

And here is a close-up of the engraved dedication.

See what I mean? Unrepentant. I particularly like the foray into statistics. The South lost because they were hopelessly outnumbered but they gave back better than they got.

Here in modern times, when we have a better grasp on statistics, it seems clear that if you put more men in harm’s way, more men will be killed.

So you see? Nothing really new here under the Texas sun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: Lamar Smith Endorses Mitt Romney

The Mitt Romney campaign issued a press release today announcing that Texas congressman and Tea Party favorite, Lamar Smith (R -  Austin) has endorsed the Romney candidacy.

“In a statement released today by Romney’s campaign, Smith said he committed to Romney in May, three months before Perry announced his candidacy. He called Romney ‘a proven leader who will create jobs, reduce the nation’s debt and embrace traditional values.’”
Here is why Rick Perry should probably bail out now: if bat-guano crazy Lamar Smith can overlook “Romneycare” and its provision to provide coverage to illegal immigrants, where does that end? Who is next?

Or is it that, as speculated in the American-Statesman, Smith is chafing over Perry’s rebuke of anyone elected to federal office as simply “Washington” as if that name is an expletive.

If that is truly the case, then I have a new respect for the depth and breadth of Lamar Smith’s vindictive spirit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A New Factor in the Republican Primary Process: The DB Factor

A reader who I actually know personally sent to me an image that I simply cannot ignore. As a matter of fact it dovetails nicely with something that has been on my mind lately: the “crudification” of the GOP.

As the Tea Party becomes more and more a factor in everyday Republican politics, civility has ended, and has been replaced by . . . well . . . the DB Factor.

The DB Factor is a factor introduced by Teabaggers, and has become part and parcel of what makes up Republicanism today. The DB Factor allows people to become less civil to each other, to care less and less about the plight of their fellow man, and become more and more self-interested, that is, greedy and miserly.

The DB Factor, need I say it, was introduced by Senator Rand Paul’s namesake, Ayn Rand, author of The Fountain and Atlas Shrugged, two classics of American cult literature that defined the platform of the Libertarian Party – and now, the de facto philosophy of a Republican Party that flees to the right in reaction to the continued presence of a moderate Republican – and Mormon, need I say – Mitt Romney.

One can only guess what the title Atlas Shrugged refers to. All I know is that Ms. Rand’s novel was poorly named if it is to let the reader know what the novel is about. So I like this one better.

Hat tip to Fenway Fran.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mitt or Rick : A Devil’s Dilemma

Well it seems that the Teabagger Wing of the Republican Party is in for a Devil’s Dilemma, because like it or not, the two most likely candidates to survive in the primary season, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, are the two candidates who have so much in common with a concept and a demographic group that Teabaggers all hate. Illegal immigrants.

Teabaggers hate two things, it seems. Taxes and Illegal Immigrants.

Teabaggers send their children to public school, but hate supporting public schools with their taxes. Teabaggers drive on public roads, but hate paying gas taxes to maintain them. Teabaggers like to go to state parks from time to time, but hate paying state sales taxes in sporting goods stores to support the state park system. They. Hate. Taxes.

Next to that, Teabaggers hate Illegal Immigrants. This despite the fact that illegal immigrant labor keeps the prices here in Texas ever so low. Bob Perry would never be able to sell his homes at such low prices without illegal immigrant labor. If anything, the “Texas Miracle” if it really exists at all, is all due to keeping prices down because of illegal immigrant labor.

But Teabaggers hate illegal immigrants because they are scum and they take more than they give.

And then we have Rick Perry, who defends his policy to giving the children of illegal immigrants a free public education, because not to do so would be to condemn these children to lives of worthlessness.

And that is true.

And then we have Mitt Romney, who, from what I am reading from this LA Times article, signed into law a bill that established a state healthcare system in Massachusetts. A law that as currently constructed, allows illegal immigrants free access to taxpayer supported free health care if they cannot afford the premiums. Because not to do so would be even more costly to the state in terms of lost labor and increased emergency room costs.

And that is true, also.

But Teabaggers don’t see it that way. Their world is black and white.

So what are they to do? Inevitably these two will be the only two to survive because of credibility and the ability to attract campaign contributions. Teabaggers will truly be challenged as they try to decide between these two, mainly because not in the mix is the judgment of who is most likely to give President Obama the biggest run for his money.

They don’t think like that.

They, in short, don’t think.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Christians for Paganism

When I took my children to a “Pumpkin Patch” to pick out a pumpkin or two for Halloween, we went to a farm with pumpkins in the field. They had hay rides and cider for sale. They had a blue grass band.

Great fun, and American capitalism at its best.

But these days, the “Pumpkin Patches” that I see around here, here in the Bible Belt, are all run by churches.

It is a fundraising event for them.

Now, from what I remember, Halloween is a pagan holiday tradition that goes back to the Dark Ages in pre-Christian Scotland where it was originally called Samhain. Druids thought that during this period the boundary that separated the living and the dead somehow thinned, and it was possible to pass back and forth between life and afterlife.

And from what I recall on the origin of the Christian holiday, All Saints Day, it was essentially established to hijack Halloween from the pagans. Witness the fact that it is called Halloween now, All Hallows Eve.

And now Christian churches are hosting Halloween in conducting fundraisers, ironic in that you don’t hear of churches selling Christmas trees or Easter supplies.

I guess having Christian Pumpkin Patches is yet another attempt to hijack a pagan holiday, as if it hasn’t been hijacked already. Or maybe it is another attempt to capitalize on capitalism.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Iraq War Will End

Fulfilling his promise to American voters, President Barack Obama yesterday announced that there would be no American soldiers in Iraq by the end of the year.  Here is the announcement:

This, ironically, is merely in keeping with a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) signed by the Bush Administration shortly before Bush left office, a fine point that those who have criticized President Obama over this announcement fail to mention.

I remember when this agreement was being hashed out, recalling that it was, in fact, an international treaty between nations. The Bush Regime, however, wasn’t calling it that even though this international agreement was voted on by the Iraqi Parliament.

My concern at the time was that since it wasn’t ratified by Congress, Bush or his successor could simply ignore the timetable especially as it approached the final exit.

It’s nice sometimes, to be wrong, isn’t it?

This blog began with an original posting on the Iraq War, something that provided an original impetus for starting a political blog. But now, see? It is now 5 years later. And 2,378 postings later I get to finally write this: The Iraq War Will End.


Friday, October 21, 2011

No Somos Republican

Republicans can’t even hear themselves talking anymore. They can’t even hear, or realize it, when they say something totally offensive to Hispanics in their own party.

Witness Lauro Garza, the former Hispanic activist Republican from Katy, Texas, who has recently resigned from the Republican Party over remarks of Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain in Las Vegas this past week.

“We saw this yesterday, in the glare of broad daylight, when a leading presidential candidate, Herman Cain, not once, but twice, advocated for the murder of innocent people and that was met with cheers! … The fact the GOP allows and applauds such outrageous thoughts is beyond reprehensible.”
Now to my knowledge, there is no plank on the Republican Platform advocating electrified fences on the border. I could be wrong, because there are lots of outrageous things written in that platform document, but I think I would have remembered it when I last read it.

The GOP has no official position on electrified fences. However, from the audience reaction to Cain’s plan, wild whoops and frantic applause, it probably should be there. And I think this is what got Mr. Garza’s cabra (goat). He suddenly realized that he was surrounded by a bloc of people who would like nothing better than to see his cold dead hands charbroiled and wrapped frozen around some electrified barbed wire.

But the message that Republicans are sending out, vote for us, vote for us, seems to be falling on deaf Hispanic ears since the GOPers have collectively embarked on this journey of unreasonable and murderous racial hatred.

Hispanics have no reason to vote for a single Republican and conservative Hispanics are now coming to this realization. Now all we have to do is find some way to get the rest of these targeted people to realize that if they don’t vote these maniacs will continue to stay in power.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddhafi Gets a Bullet: Congratulations President Obama

Well if no one else will say it, I will say it. Were it not for a singular military policy of President Obama, the news today that Muammar Gaddhafi’s life has finally ended would have never seen the light of day. As a matter of fact, the news today could have been about the hundreds or thousands of Libyan rebels being executed as punishment for being on the wrong side of a revolution when the world allowed the mad dictator of Libya to wage war on his own people.

When the US and its allies stepped in to provide material support and air cover for the Libyan rebels, Gaddhafi’s army was set to invade rebellious Benghazi, level it, and murder its citizens. That didn’t happen.

And where were the Republicans on this? As usual, either ignoring it completely or casting disparaging remarks on Obama’s policy, a policy that worked. A policy that worked without the loss of a single American life.

Senator Richard Lugar is famous for his immediate poor opinion of US involvement in the Libyan revolution. In March, when the conflict broke out, he is famously known for saying this. From CNN:

I do not understand the mission because as far as I can tell in the United States there is no mission and there are no guidelines for success.
To which we can now say, nothing succeeds like success.

Then there was The Newt on Meet the Press:
“I think that now the -- let me draw a distinction. I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qadhafi. I think there are a lot of allies in the region that we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.”

Let me finish for him: “I would have allowed thousands of Benghazi citizens to die at the hands of a government that is supposed to protect them.”

Truth is, this has been a policy that worked a whole lot better than the removal of the Iraqi government.

And now I am listening for the plaudits and praise from Republicans over yet another Middle East success story. And what am I hearing?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Honk if You Love Jesus

I just had to share this photo that showed up on facebook to spread the smiles around a little more, or at least share it with my six readers.

It reminds me of my favorite joke.

Q: What's the first thing that drivers say when they get cause a collision?

A: I have to hang up now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TCEQ Censoring a Scientific Document

Galveston Bay, and Galveston Island which forms the bay has recently been reviewed in a scientific paper issued by the Houston Advanced Research Center, a nonprofit organization that has dealt with Galveston Bay sustainability issues for 10 years now. The study, funded by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, the local EPA, apparently mentioned an unmentionable theory: that global sea levels were on the rise and that it is partially due to human activity.

So they decided to revise the chapter dealing with this issue. A clear case of governmental censorship of a scientific analysis for political ends. You need to read the entire article here. I have another take on it, which follows.

Texas governor, Rick Perry, denies the nearly 100% agreement in the climatology and oceanography community that Earth is undergoing a global climate change, and a part of the reason is the rise in greenhouse gasses generated by human fossil fuel energy consumption.

And Rick Perry appoints the TCEQ, so guess what? The TCEQ is trying to suppress a scientific finding.

The effect of even a 20 centimeter rise in global sea level would be catastrophic to Galveston Island. It would disappear. Wave action would eat it up in only a few decades, leaving no sand behind for the TCEQ commissioners to bury their collective heads in.

This issue is too serious to sweep under the rug. The effects of a global sea level rise will seriously impact our heavily populated coastlines, especially our system of barrier islands, something that the state of Texas has a whole lot of. And this is not just my opinion, or the opinion of nearly 100% of people who work in this field, it is the majority opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States.

In a 5 to 4 decision, SCOTUS ruled that despite what some people might think, despite the economic effects of cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, the disastrous effects of global sea level rise is serious enough to make people err on the side of caution. Even if global climate change by greenhouse gas emissions is a complete myth, we cannot afford to ignore the data that supports it.

In this the Supreme Court got it exact, and the TCEQ is full of methane.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Third Quarter Contributions A Study in Graphics

The Houston Chronicle has a nice little page on its website that has a graphic of the 3rd Quarter Presidential campaign finance contributions. It shows a big old photograph of selected candidates (no Newt, and no Huntsman) and superimposed print of the number of millions of dollars each candidate has been able to raise in the 3rd report quarter which just ended.

It really is a nice graphic, and you click on each photo to advance to the next candidate.

But I like my graphic better.

It kind of tells a whole ‘nother story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cain’s Credentials: Koch

Herman Cain, the present improbable front runner in the GOP presidential nomination race, has a little secret. He has no campaign apparatus, no funding, no talent for making a cogent argument, and a flawed economic plan.

Yet he leads the polls right now among GOP voters.

Why would that be, one would ask.

Could it be that money is the end all cure all for the Republican Party? The Koch Brothers, archetype Tea Party funders, are 100 per cent behind this unlikely candidacy, this as revealed by this article in the Washington Post:
His links to the Koch brothers could undercut his outsider, non-political image among people who detest politics as usual and candidates connected with the party machine.
AFP tapped Cain as the public face of its “Prosperity Expansion Project,” and he traveled the country in 2005 and 2006 speaking to activists who were starting state-based AFP chapters from Wisconsin to Virginia. Through his AFP work he met Mark Block, a longtime Wisconsin Republican operative hired to lead that state’s AFP chapter in 2005 as he rebounded from an earlier campaign scandal that derailed his career.
Doubt it. Cain is serving a purpose right now and it isn’t pretty. He is the ultimate bait and switch of the GOP campaign this year. In the end, he will be embittered that he was so used.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Huckabee: Religion is Not Rick Perry’s Problem

Rick Perry is Rick Perry’s problem, or so says former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee should know as he has made religion a cornerstone of his political agenda since 2007.

From The Chron:

“Rick Perry’s numbers are down because his debate performances have been extremely less than spectacular and I’m being charitable. Gov. Perry started at the top … but his repeat debate performances and the fact that he has not been able to find his footing on some key issues has just made people start looking elsewhere.”
And he seems surprisingly like the adult in the room as he gently chided Perry for thinking that this thing was his for the taking. Talking down to Perry, Huckabee continues:
“It’s not about religion. It’s about the fact that running for president is like sticking your face in the blade of a fan. Don’t try that at home. … It’s not pretty but folks, running for president is not a chess game it is a full contact sport played without pads.”
Something former Aggie cheerleader Rick Perry wouldn’t know anything about.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rick Perry, Well Baked But Not Done Yet

I think Jason Embry at the Austin American-Statesman has a good point. He makes it here.

Rick Perry is polling in 4th place in Florida polls, but there is good reason to believe that he is not done yet. And God knows Rick Perry leads a charmed life because normally such a really dumb guy would have the chances of winning an election as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.

First, he’s a really bad debater. He even admits that debate is “not his strong suit,” a little understated maybe. But Embry argues that debates are the main exposure people are getting of him. TV ads have not begun yet, and Perry has got the money to buy some air time in primary states.

He simply has money to continue, His competition doesn’t, and will start to drop out as they run out.

So people will continue to have to choose again as the field narrows.

Herman Cain will continue for awhile, but everyone knows that his campaign is a vanity campaign – not a serious one. They will have to choose again and I am doubtful that those who went for Cain will choose Mitt Romney. After all, Romney is the chief reason Herman Cain is doing so well in the polls now.

And Embry is right again. Mitt Romney polls a consistent 23%. It hasn’t changed in weeks while polling for his competition has wildly fluctuated. Indicating that Romney has a solid base of traditional moderate Republicans, but can’t attract a Teabagger vote to save his soul.

Nope. Keep the fork in the silverware tray for a little while more. Rick isn’t done yet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Perry Persecution . . . By Whom?

Wow, today Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, tearfully told an Austin audience that her husband was being persecuted for his Christian religion.

They (his fellow Republicans) are all ganging up on her husband, she says, because he is a better Christian than they are. I swear it’s true, this is what she told a North Greenville University (an Appalachian foothills Baptist college in South Carolina) audience today.
“We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today We still feel called. We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative — well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”
So, OK, Perry is being brutalized (bullied?) by his opponents, some of whom have also claimed that they were called by God Almighty to run for this office. But Perry, being the one who was really and truly called by God, or maybe Anita Perry’s grandfather, we really don’t know for sure, Rick Perry is getting his butt chewed.

But I just put this together. Really, who stood to benefit the most by attacking Perry and attacked Perry at every opportunity? Mitt Romney, that’s who. Mitt Romney is attacking Rick Perry for being a Christian.

Not a better Christian. A Christian. Because as we all know, Mormons aren’t really Christians, not according to Robert Jeffress, a Perry-supporting pastor of a Dallas area mega-church. A statement that neither Rick Perry nor his wife for that matter, have failed to condemn.

So there you have it. Rick Perry is trailing in the polls because Mitt Romney, a godless Mormon, has it out for Christians.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Mark of Cain: 9-9-9 or 666?

It took Michele Bachmann’s outlandish comment in last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate to help me put this thing together that has been nagging me at some fundamental level for a while now.

Bachmann called out Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan last night.
999 upside down, obviously, is 666. And to evangelical Christians, 666 is the mark of the devil.
“When you get the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down the Devil’s in the details.”
And going back even further, it is the Mark of Cain.

And this is truly ironic, because we have in this presidential race a crazy evangelical Christian, two Mormons, and an African-American. And some of us know that Mormons had a previous problem with African-Americans in that they felt that they were all descendents of Cain.

They bore the mark of Cain.
“Cain slew his brother....and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.”        - Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, pages 290-291
This, by the way, has all been taken back by the LDS church. Taken back in 1978,

And so it was the crazy evangelical that brought it up. Herman Cain bears the Mark of Cain and his taxation plan is the devil’s plan.

Huntsman and Romney both knew the heavy thick brown stuff that she had just stepped in and kept silent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another GOP Presidential Love Fest Tonight

Well it has been just too long since that last GOP presidential debate. Recall what happened at the last debate: Rick Perry imploded, as everyone I know expected – he is, if anything, predictable. And his numbers went south of the border that Perry has difficulty defending – according to his opponents.

So now it will be interesting to see if Perry can dig himself out of that hole. But from what I have seen, Perry has been trying to dig himself out by digging a hole to China.

And the “N-----head” hunting ranch didn’t help.

Herman Cain has gotten a boost in the polls, but this is really a sideshow. There is no way a primary voting Republican will vote for an African-American. Most of these voters would just love to have a hunting ranch named “N-----head.” But it will be interesting to see if the attention he has received in the ensuing weeks after the last debate will translate into a change in the amount of attention he receives. The grand battle of the giants, Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, is almost a non-entity now. What will emerge in its place?

And I wonder if anyone has considered that Herman Cain’s regressive 9-9-9 taxation system really translates into a 17-9-9 plan. Really. States already have a sales tax. Most tax at the rate of 8% or above. Do you think that people will want to pay a 17 to 18 percent sales tax on goods and services?

Nobody talks about that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lawsuits Loom in State Education Finance

According to this item at the Austin American-Statesman, there are three separate theories being argued in three separate lawsuits challenging the 81st Legislature’s cutting of $4 billion for public education from the current budget – resulting in the layoffs of tens of thousands of public school teachers. That’s nothing. In 2012 it will be a $13 billion cut.

These theories are as follows:

1. The Texas State Constitution, since 1876 requires the Legislature to provide an "efficient system of public free schools." The argument goes that the system is anything but efficient because funding levels are arbitrary, irrational and inequitable.

2. In another lawsuit, ISDs maintain that the Legislature has once again levied a statewide property tax, which is constitutionally prohibited.

3. The third tack holds that funding is inadequate to prepare students to meet the state's standards, “which have been ratcheted up in recent years.”


Now here’s the thing. All of this won’t play out until 2013. That is the projected trial schedule. In other words, in 2013 the damage will have been done. More teachers will be chased out of the profession, belts will tighten and it will be all that much more difficult to teach. With NCLB still in force, more and more campuses will not meet their AYP.

Forcing public schools to the private sector, which is exactly the goal of Republicans.

Privatization of public education.

State Rep. Jim Keffer has famously defended his party’s assault on public education in this quote, found at the Austin American-Statesman:

“But that's usually how legislatures work. We do our best when our back is against the wall and the gun is cocked against our head.”

Except that didn’t exactly happen, did it? Or maybe he is referring to the fact that 3 lawsuits are the cocked gun. That works for me.

Only it’s going to be too late, and there is no guarantee the legislature will fix this inequitable system that fails to educate Texas’ schoolchildren.

And that, I think, was also planned.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Religion and Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

You know there was a study done once where test subjects were subjected to films while connected to a scanner that could detect what areas of the brain were being the most stimulated. What I remember about the study was that when subjects were exposed to things that they held as beliefs, whether they were religious beliefs or political beliefs, the exact same areas of the brain was most active.

The belief area.

But when presented with ideas that they opposed, a completely different area of the brain became the most stimulated area.

In short, we humans base our politics and religion on a system of beliefs, not a system of logic. Debate occurs when trying to justify beliefs with a logic system. And that is were you get “factual inaccuracies.”


The reason I bring this up is that religion has re-entered presidential politics in a way that I haven’t seen since President Kennedy was attacked for being a Catholic.

With the comment by an evangelical Perry supporter who heads up a Dallas superchurch, that Mitt Romney was not really a Christian, Pandora’s box has truly been opened.

Rick Santorum was asked whether he thought Mitt Romney was a Christian and the answer came out in an interesting but halting way:
“Mitt Romney is a true, he says he’s a Christian. I believe he said Christian.”

See? He almost said it: Mitt Romney is a true Christian. But then he walked it back and said that he says he is a Christian.


Michele Bachmann, when asked the same question absolutely punted.Dismissing the question as irrelevant. But it is not irrelevant to 23% of American voters who say that they would never vote for a Mormon for president.
“To make this a big issue is ridiculous right now, because every day I’m on the street talking to people. This is not what people are talking about.”

And that is the key really. You don’t have to really discuss this because you already have 23% of the people who will opt for the non-Mormon every time. In short, why discuss it? The deal is done.
But Herman Cain’s response to the same question was truly artful. He said that Mitt Romney was not a Christian without saying it.

“I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that.”
See? Mormonism vs. Christianity? As if one were not the other?



Saturday, October 08, 2011

Disenfranchising Minority Voters, Texas Style

Not surprising me in the least, Texas’ recently-passed Voter ID Law, the one that requires voters present one of only 5 forms of photo ID in order to be able to vote in the state, threatens to disenfranchise 600,000 voters.

This is according to data submitted to the federal government by the state attorney general as requested when the feds decline to issue a “pre-clearance” of the law as required by provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

That request contained a requirement that the attorney general present the federal government with a head count of people who are registered to vote but do not hold drivers’ licenses

And it comes as no surprise that many of the 24 counties where a significant number of registered voters do not carry drivers’ licenses are small rural counties with significant Hispanic populations.

Topping the list is Presidio County which has as many as 25.9%, or 1,313 registered voters with no record of having a drivers’ license.

Republicans, true to form, don’t think the law will disenfranchise voters at all. Patricia Harless R-Spring, and one of the sponsors of the Voter ID law put it this way:
“‘I don't think this, in any way, is going to disenfranchise anyone," she said.”

“Harless said most of the people not found in DPS files would be able to vote. Maybe their licenses and voter ID cards are different because one has a maiden name and the other has a married name.”

“She also said many of those people in border counties could have only passports for travel to Mexico. Or they are 65 years old or older, and exempt from the voter ID requirements.
And oh, yeah, on that last point about people 65 and older being exempt from the law: liar, liar pants on fire. While it is true that the bill once contained language that exempted those over 65, that was stripped out of the bill before final passage.

Texas Republicans, lying to Texans since 1998.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Wacky Evangelical Fringe Endorses Perry Because Romney Isn’t Really a Christian

Don’t you think that Rick Perry has some problems now that Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, has endorsed his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination?

If you don’t then read on.

Jeffress endorsed Governor Perry because his main opponent in the race for the nomination, Mitt Romney is a member of a cult.

From the Perry Presidential blog on The Chron:
“‘Rick Perry is a Christian,’ said Jeffress. ‘He’s an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity. So it’s the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian.’”
Perry’s camp responded with a denial that Mitt Romney is a member of a cult, and that he is a Christian. The distancing from this endorsement couldn’t be more clear.

Now I’ve said this before. I have no dogs in this hunt. I couldn’t care less if Rick Perry or Mitt Romney were Wiccans, religious belief is not on the menu when choosing the leader of our nation. But this is an issue with a lot of people who vote. Perry made a decision to back away from these extremist viewpoints because, heck, they’ll probably vote for him anyway. Down the road, it is the Independents who will decide this race in November.

And the last thing Rick Perry needs to do is to alienate the Independent voters.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Godwin’s Law With a Vengeance

Godwin’s Law, or as it was originally stated, Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies, states that as any threaded internet discussion proceeds, the longer the discussion, the more likely someone is to compare a point of view to beliefs held by Adolf Hitler, the world’s most recently most-reviled human. A corollary to the rule states that once someone makes that analogy, the arguer has immediately lost the debate.

Well Hank Williams, Jr. son of the revered country western icon, Hank Williams, recently demonstrated Godwin’s Law in action when he compared President Obama’s recent round of golf with Speaker Boehner to a round of golf between Adolf Hitler and Benjamin Netanyahu.

And then he defended the analogy.

Losing the debate.

Losing his job.

Godwin’s Law with a vengeance.

ESPN announced that it was pulling Junior’s Monday Night Football performance of All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight, a Monday Night Football tradition since 1989. ESPN obviously did not want to look like it endorsed Junior’s point of view, and I can see their point. I am sure it would have been back next week as Americans are notorious for their lack of any long-term memory at all.

But Williams, Jr. responded in kind, cutting off his nose to spite his face, and took home his toys. It’s his song and he won’t be singing it on ESPN ever again. He cited that his 1st Amendment rights had been violated.

Now I am a fair-minded person, something that I try to keep secret, and can see the sides of both ESPN and Williams, Jr. ESPN made a business decision, though, not a constitutional decision. Williams, Jr. would most certainly have been back. But like the pouting child that he is, he pulled his act, something he was not doing for free.

That’s fine. If Junior can afford not to do this weekly gig at ESPN, fine. He just needs to know what force of nature was operating here. It wasn’t the constitution and it wasn’t the business world.

It was Godwin’s Law, acting with a vengeance.