Thursday, April 30, 2009

Texas Senate Giving McLeroy the Bum’s Rush

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather. In my traditional stance as the eternal pessimist, I assumed the worst, that Don McLeroy, dentist, young-Earth creationist, and Chairman of the State Board of Education would eventually receive the necessary two-thirds vote to confirm Perry’s re-nomination to that state leadership position.

And now it looks like he won’t.

From the Austin American-Statesman:

“‘The confirmation of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy is dead in the water’, Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, said Thursday.”

“Jackson, chairman of the Senate Nominations Committee, said McLeroy will be left pending in committee because there is enough opposition on the floor of the Senate to block his confirmation, which requires approval of two-thirds of the senators.”

“‘There are too many other important issues to take up on the floor to waste time on a doomed confirmation,’ Jackson said.”

This comes on the heels of Governor Perry’s own thrust of the knife in the back of the former chairman when he hung the poor man out to dry when he refused to come to McLeroy’s defense, saying essentially, that the fate of his nominee was in the hands of the Senate.

From The Chron:

“You know I have 1500 appointees a year. So uh, we appoint them and they go through the process. That’s the way it’s always worked.”

So with the nomination dead in the water since the Senate will refuse to act, come the end of the legislative session it will be up to Rick Perry to come up with another chairman who must come from the pool of 15 state board members (and now, 14). The question is not which Republican member Perry will nominate, the question is whether he will nominate one of the remaining 6 Republican creationists currently on the board.

My guess is that he will because he needs to cater to his base in his upcoming re-election in 2010.

There are no minuses here because the Senate will not be able to confirm his nomination until 2011, well after the dust has settled.

But really, you know, the science issue is settled for another 10 years so maybe he should search around for someone who would appeal to his base in the area and issues of social studies, whose curriculum is next on the agenda for the Board to review and revise.

Like someone who has a different viewpoint on the War of Northern Aggression, and is of the opinion that Texas can secede from the Union any time it darn well feels like it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Texas Cancels High School Sports

It was here in Texas that the term “Friday Night Lights” was coined. The lights that go on at high school football fields every Friday night in the late summer and fall.

Texas, as it turns out, is fanatical about sports in general, and football in particular.

So it came as a surprise to me today when I read the notice that the director of the University Interscholastic League, or UIL announced that he was canceling all UIL events in Texas until May 11.

Every sports event in Texas between now and then is cancelled.

From The Chron:

“‘The health and safety of our student activity participants is of the utmost importance,’ UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in a press release. ‘Taking every possible precaution to prevent the further spreading of this disease is an important contribution to the welfare of our great state, and altering the schedule of our events is a way to keep our participants safe.’”

I have a couple of comments on this.

First, it’s not football season anymore. That makes this move possible.

Second, I have to wonder about the likelihood of someone coming in contact with a carrier of Swine Flu on the baseball diamond.

Or at a track meet.

Out there in the open air.

Contrast that to the fact that it’s TAKS week. TAKS, you may or may not know, is a 4-hour test. Even if you finish it in 45 minutes, test takers must stay put in tiny cramped rooms for 4 tedious hours. And believe me, the air gets a little stale after awhile.

So I have to ask this: why is it not safe for high school athletes to travel to some place and compete in the open air, and absolutely safe to sit in a small cramped classroom for 4 hours? OK, I get it about limiting travel among the population, but it stands to reason that if there is a concern for spreading the flu virus in one case there should be concern in another.

Or am I missing something?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time to Primary John Cornyn

Although the junior Senator from Texas, John Cornyn, has just been re-elected to his Senate seat in the last election, it’s not too early to plan John Cornyn’s early retirement package. Because it is time to primary John Cornyn.

Today, John Cornyn became an apologist for liberal Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.

From CQ Politics:

“While we were disappointed by Senator Specter’s decision to switch parties, he was very candid to acknowledge that this was simply nothing more, nothing less than political self-preservation.

As Leader McConnell indicated, his own pollster told him he could not win the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. So his only options were to leave the Senate or to switch parties, since he was determined or he was convinced he could not win as an independent.”

Hah! He left the Republican Party because he couldn’t be re-elected? John Cornyn lies! John Cornyn, himself a liberal, avoids the issue. Arlen Specter didn’t leave the Republican Party because he simply wanted to stay in office. He left The Party because he has become a communist.

A fascist communist.

And so is John Cornyn.

John Cornyn, who endorsed Arlen Specter over a true conservative, a True Republican. The Club for Growth’s own Pat Toomey.

That’s why we need to get rid of this senator. He no longer serves in the interests of the right-thinking People of Texas. John the Fascist.

And with righteous groups like The Club for Growth raising True Republican consciousness (and raising campaign cash to boot) we can recruit and run a True Republican against Communist Cornyn.

Who do we look to, to get this done? A few names come to mind. Congressman Tom DeLay comes to mind. He has been in Virginia for far too long and needs to come home to Texas. Another who comes to mind is Speaker Tom Craddick. With the Texas legislature being influenced by liberal communists, Tom Craddick would be better used by True Republicans in the US Senate.

Whoever we run, it’s time now to put the wheels in motion.

[Note to Googlers: this is supposed to be a parody. I’m not serious.]

Arlen Specter Jumps Ship

What a day. Arlen Specter just announced that he is dropping his longstanding association with the party of the Dark Side and throwing his support, and hopefully, his cloture votes, to the Democratic Party.

In his statement released this morning, and found here, Specter said in part:

“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

“When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.”

“Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.”

“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.”

And the word is that he will be running unopposed in that primary. In the Pennsylvania primary, where 200,000 voters changed their registrations to Democratic in 2008.

So really it is a move to stay in office. Ideological shifts or not. And really, the ideological shift was not Specter’s to have, it was his (former) party’s shift to the right.

Something we have been watching here in Fort Bend County, Texas for some time now.

But the icing on the cake is that with Al Franken’s victory that makes the Senate filibuster-proof and we can get some legislation passed with a 60-vote majority.

And what does that mean for former Minnesota Senator Norm “Crybaby” Coleman and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty? I think the heat just got turned up on them and it’s imperative now for their foot-dragging to be renewed with the vigor of staunch members of the Grand Obstructionist Party.

Or maybe they should just change parties.

UPDATE 1: On a livechat at the Houston Chronicle Texas Congressman Mike McCaul had this to say in reaction to Arlen Spector's defection:

"I am disappointed that Senator Specter has decided to switch parties. With the Senate just 1 vote away from being filibuster proof, this will give the Democrats extraordinary powers over both the Congress and the White House. Under the Constitution, our system of checks and balances is fundamental to our democracy. I am concerned that this decision will take away those checks and balances."
You got that? "Checks and balances?" How hilarious is that? Yes, there is a concept called "checks and balances" in our government's design and structure. But it is an INTER branch concept, not an INTRA branch one. This guy's a congressman?

UPDATE 2: Watching Specter at his press conference this afternoon, I distinctly heard him say "Democrat party."

Rule number one: Get name right.

Susan Collins: I Was For It Before I Was Against It

In a press release issued yesterday, and is posted on Senator Collins’ senate website, Senator Susan Collins adamantly denies that she opposed getting funding for pandemic flu research.

Here is part of her statement, the part that gets a bit testy:

“Claims that she is opposed to increased funding for pandemic flu research are blatantly false and politically motivated. In fact, in December 2008, Senator Collins joined in a letter to Senate leaders requesting a $905 million increase for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services.”

So why did Collins move to slice the same $900 million from the Stimulus Bill?

“…pandemic flu research funding should go through the regular appropriations process since it did not meet the test of stimulus spending.”

A technicality?

Susan Collins opposed pandemic flu research funds, and by default, supported a possible swine flu epidemic, because of a technicality?

You know it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that $900 million spends just as well whether it is put in a “stimulus bill” or an appropriations bill (which, really, when you come right down to it, is what the stimulus bill actually was).

But more to the point is the fact that pandemic flu research is actually part and parcel of economic recovery. The point is not that flu research brings in more jobs, that is patently absurd. The reason Democrats put this funding in the stimulus bill was because of the massive “What If.”

What if in the middle of a slow climb out of the cellar America, or worse, the entire world is hit with a pandemic killer flu on the order of the one that killed millions after World War 1? Not only do people lose their lives and treasure, but in proactively preventing spread of the flu, schools, businesses, banks, stock exchanges, retail outlets all close. Society and the economy all grind to a halt.

Nope, sorry Senator, that was just a bad call on your part. One that sounded good to you at the time, but one that now has all of the hallmarks of being for it before being against it. No press release is going to undo your blunder.

Especially with an explanation like that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

21 Percent of Americans Identify Themselves as Republicans

ABC News is reporting that in their recent (today) poll, a mere 21% of all Americans now identify themselves as Republican.

That’s down a little.

Data and charts are here.

And my favorite one is at left. Click to enlarge.

“Obama also has the fortune to preside at a time of continuing disaffection with the Republican Party, now deep in the political wilderness. Allegiance to the GOP has been declining since 2004; today just 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest since September 1983 in ABC/Post polls.”

I can’t see how it can trend lower. 21% of all American voters is roughly the total population of southern white men and church ladies.

What You Know About TAKS

Got your Number 2 pencil sharpened in your backpack?

TAKS week has finally arrived.

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

This is that epic test that puts a chill in the air, even though its almost May. A chill, because school children face dire consequences if they fail to pass the test: they get held back. Because they don't graduate if they fail any 11th grade test. Because teachers not only have to sit through countless hours proctoring the test, but all manner of harm comes down on Texas teachers if their students do poorly. Because Texas’ school rating system doesn’t rate schools based on how well they teach, but based on how well their students do on TAKS

In other words, it’s all about some misguided attempt at accountability.

If your neighbor’s dog bites you in the leg on your evening walk, you don’t blame the dog, do you? You blame the neighbor. That’s logical. But it doesn’t work all the time. If a dentist has clients with bad teeth because they don’t brush, you don’t blame the dentist, do you?

But the real reason for this posting today is, really, a bit of public service. Because the consequences of failure are so dire for everyone involved, I want to pass on some helpful hints on passing TAKS. It’s in this You Tube video that was made a year ago that someone hipped me to today.

What YOU know about TAKS?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Joint Election Early Voting Starts On April 27th

So if you want to exercise your opinion on local politics, or if you want a huge say in what kind of school board you want running your life, go vote in the Joint Election. No it's not an election to legalize marijuana, several entities have combined together for this uniform election day to make it less costly and more efficient.

Go vote.

Vote because voter turnout for these elections is pitifully small. You could have as much as 15 to 20 times the voting clout as your neighbors because for one reason or another, they don’t vote in these things.

Early voting starts tomorrow. April 27th and goes for an astounding 2 weeks with the last day of early voting on El Cinco de Mayo (the only holiday we Americans celebrate because of a beer company’s ad campaign).

Races in the joint election are for races in Fort Bend ISD, City of Arcola, City of Missouri City, City of Sugar Land and the Kingsbridge MUD

And there are tons of voting locations. Click here for a .PDF file of times and locations.

But what the heck, if you are a procrastinator like I have been lately or for some reason you still think that only certain privileged people can early vote wait until Election Day on May 9th (it’s on a Saturday – isn’t that a novel concept?)

There are more voting locations then, I guess to avoid all the long lines.

(That was a joke)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Texas Education Revamped (Again): HB3/SB3

Just voted out of the House committee for Public Education is HB 3, a bill authored by Rob Eissler (R – The Woodlands). An identical bill, SB 3 was authored by Florence Shapiro.

In its present form HB 3 is set to alter the way Texas students are educated and graduated – again.

Gone, for instance, is the required retention of students who cannot for the life of them pass standardized tests. If they fail to pass, the issue is put under review to analyze the causes and to come up with solutions.

Gone, as well is the “minimum” label for the diploma given to students who take fewer courses. It’s now called “Standard.” For the most part, though, little change is made to what these courses are. There is lots of new language, though that suggests that these students are on a track toward auto repair.

Or beauty school.

The new “Texas Diploma” is the term used for the present “Recommended Plan,” and “Advanced“ is the term to be applied to “Distinguished Plan..” Very few course changes are made for these as well. One notable change is that the 4x4 plan, the plan that requires taking 4 years of math, English, social studies and science, is pared back a little. Four required sciences drops to three.

And obviously, the Texas Diploma and Advanced program are for the college bound.

And more than before.

More in that the schools must certify that the students bearing these diplomas are really and truly ready for college.

Because as it stands right now, some of them are not.

Here is the language in the bill:

(e-1)AAA school district shall provide an endorsement of college readiness on the transcript of a student who has completed a Texas Diploma or advanced high school program and has demonstrated the performance standard for college readiness as provided by Section 39.024 on the Algebra II and English III end-of-course assessment instruments. A district shall provide an endorsement of postsecondary readiness on the transcript of a student who has completed a Texas Diploma or advanced high school program and has demonstrated the alternate performance standard as provided under

Section 39.0243. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules as necessary to administer this subsection.

Like that? Not only must a school sign off on whether a student will be successful in college, but also the method by which this determination is made is clearly spelled out: passing two end-of-course tests.

Man, talk about a test with momentous consequences.

Fail the English III EOC? Off to Cosmetology School.

Really, there isn’t anything in there that requires that a college or university turn away an applicant because their transcript lacks the school’s college readiness endorsement. That would be bad for business (right Baylor U.?). But think of it. It’s a sure thing that college admission boards will use this endorsement as a litmus test if only to cut down on the number of applications and SAT scores they have to peruse.

That’s one thing about Texas. In Texas, when you get lots of people complaining about students having to take lots of standardized tests that have horrific consequences if they don’t pass, fix the whole thing by adding the number of tests to be taken, from 4 to 15, and up the stakes for failing to pass two of them.

All for the purpose of making schools more accountable.

In Texas, the tail wags the dog every single time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

One Down, One to Go

It took 4 weeks to do it, but it looks like the comeback that was proudly predicted by Republicans in New York’s 20th congressional district, as well as Republicans from coast to coast failed to materialize.

Scott Murphy, now Congressman Scott Murphy, had a 65 vote lead at the end of the day in a New York special election that was held to fill the empty congressional seat due to the elevation of Kirsten Gillibrand to the US Senate, taking Hillary Clinton’s old seat. This triggered an automatic recount as well as the counting of absentee ballots from overseas.

In the recount process, Murphy’s lead kept rising. Now at 400 votes, it’s still a squeaker but Republican challenger John Tedesco gave Murphy a call today and conceded the election to him.

New York registers voters with party preference. A very civilized practice that I wish Texas would adopt. So we know that CD-20 is Republican leaning. As they say in the business of vote prediction, CD-20 is an R +2 district. So Republicans were predicting victory now that the Democratic candidate didn’t share a ballot with Barack Obama.

So that had to be hard to do, conceding with such a narrow margin, but Tedesco ended up showing everyone that he is a class act.

Contrast that to the behavior of Minnesota’s former senator Norm Coleman. A truly pitiful picture in comparison. Coleman, who won the senate seat of Minnesota’s beloved and well-respected Senator Paul Wellstone because Senator Wellstone was killed, along with his wife and daughter in a plane crash just before the 2002 general election, is doing to Minnesota what Republican hooligans did to America in 2000.

Busing in out-of-state Republican staffers and others to Florida to disrupt the recount there, this assault on America resulted in a battered and maimed nation. Eight years of mental and physical abuse of our country. Our country's rights and freedoms. Our country's world image. Our country's wealth. These hooligans disrupted the recount long enough for the US Supreme Court to step in and award the presidency to one of the worst presidents in US history.

Something that Norm Coleman wants to have happen again.

Only this time, he wants the courts to overturn the decision of voters in Minnesota and award him the seat that he won away from a dead man.

So, good news from New York, but we still have one more of these to settle.

Because Norm Coleman is no class act.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How Did All the Oil and Gas Get to Alaska?

I swear, if ever there was a poster child for scientific ignorance as a result of a good Texas education, Congressman Joe Barton of the 6th congressional district of Texas is the obvious choice.

Not only is Barton hopelessly ignorant of the science of geology he is so totally clueless of this ignorance that he has posted the video of his exchange with Nobel laureate and Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu.

An exchange where Barton characterizes Dr. Chu’s reply to the question posted in the title to this posting as “a puzzling answer.”

He thinks he stumped the man with his shrewd question.

I do have to say this, though. At least Barton knows that hydrocarbons are formed in areas that are generally warmer than it is in the Arctic Ocean.

Which was his point. Since we have oil and gas in Alaska, it must have once been warm way up north.

Negating, supposedly, arguments for global warming.

Chu patiently tried to explain to this ignoramus of a congressman how continents move about, and that, yes, the oil and gas “just drifted” to Alaska from a much lower latitude.

One of the target reservoirs in Alaska is called the Lisburne Group. It is a thick massive limestone formation with abundant fossils. Fossils that were big reef formers during the Mississippian.

That is, a shallow marine warm water environment that was deposited before there was a single dinosaur.

Over 300 million years ago.

That was a time when Earth had just one continent. And it was really, really warm.

At that time, Barton’s hometown of Arlington, Texas was under a vast shallow sea.

See, that’s what happens when the Earth warms up. The ice melts, reefs form and sea level rises.

Now will someone please explain how this guy is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce? What’s the term? Dumber than a bag of hammers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creationist School Board Chairman Confirmation Today

Don McLeroy, Dentist, Creationist and Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education was renominated to that position by Governor Rick Perry on February 6, 2009, mainly because he had never been confirmed by the Senate as required under the law.

The original nomination took place after the 80th session of the legislature ended, so McLeroy, who has been the dominant force on the Board in getting God put back into science textbooks, has never actually been approved by the People’s representatives.

Giving me pause.

And making me question the timing of today’s Senate Committee on Nominations hearing.

Because in the time between Perry’s renomination and today’s hearing, the state board held hearings of its own on adoption of Texas’ new standards in science education. And came within a hair’s breadth of adopting language in the Biology standards that addressed “weaknesses” in the “Theory of Evolution.”

Weaknesses that exist in the minds of creationists, and not in the minds of those in the scientific community.

They spent days and days with this. Heard speaker after speaker denounce the inclusion of this notion. All driven by McLeroy.

Why, pray, did taxpayers pay for all the time that was spent on this one miniscule issue, when there is more to science than one theory (actually a biological principle) within one subdiscipline of science?

My guess is that this meeting was scheduled so all of that drama could play unhampered.

My guess is that this hearing will result in a rubberstamp approval of Perry’s nomination. And as I write this, I am watching the livestream video of the hearing. For the most part, the committee members are giving him a pass.

Going forward, my guess is that the Republican-stacked Senate will go likewise. And not necessarily because these senators approve of what McLeroy is doing and has done in the past.

Think of it. If the senate turns McLeroy out of the Chairman’s spot because of his creationist viewpoints we will have a martyr on our hands.

And all Perry has to do is lift another rock and pluck up another of this kind.

Definitely lose-lose all around. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if McLeroy was shown the door. I just don’t think much will change if he is.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

85 Days to Godwin’s Law

I have to hand it to the neoconservatives who are (thankfully) now out of power. It didn’t take them long.

It only took them 85 days for Godwin’s Law to preside over public discourse on the internet.

Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Godwin’s Law, for those who don’t know, is a law of modern human discourse. There are lots of versions, but the one I like is the one that attempts to quantify the phenomenon.

Godwin’s Law: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

Now this law was constructed in 1990 when the internet was in its infancy, and the mode of exchange of the day was a “Usenet.” But now internet discussion has mushroomed to include just about every form of human information exchange there is in existence. Godwin’s Law, by all rights, should be applied accordingly

There is a corollary to Godwin’s Law that is sometimes mistaken for the actual law. Here is Corollary 1 to Godwin’s Law:

“Once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.”

Neoconservatives were falling all over themselves last year calling Barack Obama a socialist. The trouble is, the term “socialist” doesn’t have the bite it once had. Not since education became publicly funded. Not since Social Security was enacted.

And Medicare.

Socialist programs all.

And it certainly didn’t help warn off the voters, did it?

So if it doesn’t work trying to associate Barack Obama with far leftwing politics, why not change tactics and associate him with far rightwing politics?

Why not compare Barack Obama to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini? Why not?

So that’s exactly with former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis decided to do, and used this as his rationale.

“‘We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,’ Mr. Anuzis said. ‘Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.’”

Well heck, at least he’s honest.

He’s even a little analytical about it, about how the term needs to be dressed up the correct way in order not to sound like a psychotic person:

“‘It’s politically very incorrect only because we’re not used to it,’ concluded Mr. Anuzis, who recently joined American Solutions for Winning the Future, a group led by Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker. But he acknowledged, ‘You’ve got to be careful using the term ‘economic fascism’ in the right way, so it doesn’t come off as extreme.’”

Trouble is, some were not listening when he threw out those caveats.

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

“If you think I am overreacting, you merely have to look at what leaders of his ilk have done throughout history to gain and maintain power. Yes, he is charismatic and convincing to many. Although I do not intend to link his motives directly, so was Hitler.”

Or as caught on camera at a TEA party:

I found a few more websites, some “waaaay out there” blogs but am going to opt out of linking to them because some of these people look like they are seriously unbalanced. Which is the problem with throwing wild things like this out there in the first place.

Some people see it for what it is: political rhetoric.

Some people believe every single word.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Opposite Marriage?

OK. It’s time to pay the piper. A fellow Californian has been caught out in the open with her diminutive brain exposed.

It had to happen, especially in the atmosphere of the Miss America beauty pageant.

No doubt, Miss California is stunning. No body fat whatsoever. No one has an ax to grind against that.

It’s just when the judges threw issues of the day at the finalists. They were incredibly vicious in the intent of their pointed questions. They wanted to know. They wanted to expose the fascist socialists wherever they were lurking.

Or not.

In Miss California’s case, she drew the question of the century. Or the decade, Or maybe just the semi-year.

Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

Poor kid. Despite the admonitions of AT&T, she chose poorly.

Her answer? H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, No! No Gay Marriage. Her “country” also known as my home state, does not allow Gay Marriage.

And that is actually true. Proposition 8 and all of that.

But more to the point, she herself, and her family, oppose the idea.

No problem. She’s entitled to her opinion.

But wait, now she is saying that her opinion cost her the Miss America title? That the socialist fascists in charge of the pageant conspired to deny her the tiara?

Oh Sweet Jesus, let us weep for poor Miss California. Think of the hundreds of thousands that she kissed away with just that response.

Think deeply, Miss California. But please, don’t hurt yourself in doing it.

Good Is Lots, More Is Better

The title of this posting is an axiom of mine that describes how I like my Mexican cuisine.

And apparently it’s what those in the Bush Regime thought in reference to how one should administer a waterboarding,

Or more to the point, how many hundreds of times.

Now I distinctly recall when all of this was discussed a couple of years ago that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a guy we have in custody who was one of the 9/11 planners, was waterboarded exactly once. It was this, they said, that underlined just how effective waterboarding is in getting information from “high value” terror targets.

The story spun back then was that when he was tortured there was a woman present to witness the act, and this was something that humiliated him. It was for that reason, the CIA claimed, that he stuck it out for a phenomenal 2 minutes.

And then was never waterboarded again. From ABC News (9/13/2007)

“Then KSM started talking, in idiomatic English he learned as a high school foreign exchange student and polished at a North Carolina college in the 1980s, sources said.”

“‘It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out,’ one former CIA officer told ‘A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out.’”

“‘Then he started talking, and he never stopped,’ this former officer said. KSM was never water-boarded again, and in hours and hours of conversation with his interrogators, often over a cup of tea, he poured out his soul and the murderous deeds he committed.’”

Well I guess it’s “Liar, liar pants on fire” isn’t it?

Now we find that instead of getting waterboarded only once, and this resulted in our getting tons of valuable information from a guy who became so highly motivated not to get waterboarded again, he was actually waterboarded 183 times.

In a single month.

Lies. So many lies.

Revealing to us that not only is waterboarding so NOT an effective tool of torture, but we had people who were committing these heinous acts of terrorism actually spreading anecdotal lies about how superior it is, and what great results you get from it.

Think of it. These people knew about the ineffectiveness of the tool and not only kept on doing it, but spreading bald-faced lies about it all.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 12:9

Is anyone still wondering why America is referred to in the Islamic world as “The Great Satan?”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Signs of Normality in Iraq

I started this blog nearly three years ago mainly in my frustration over what appeared to be endless war hatched and fostered by the most hateful government in memory. That government is quickly fading into the recesses of history, despite the best efforts of “Dead Eye” Dick Cheney and a few loudmouthed political pundits to remind us all of the bad old days over and over again.

I thought that in adding my voice to what was fast-becoming a mounting public outcry I was helping, somehow, to end the war.

And now, with America finally turned way from the party of the Dark Side, we are starting to see the stirrings of normality in Iraq.

Night clubs are open.

Whiskey is being served

And the prostitutes are back.

It all here on today’s New York Times.

“It is a long way from Sodom and Gomorrah, but perhaps part way back to the old Baghdad. The Baathists who ruled here from the 1960s until the American invasion in 2003 were secular, and more than a little sinful. Baghdad under Saddam Hussein was a pretty lively place, with street cafes open until 2 or 3 a.m., and prostitutes plying their trade even in the bowling alley of Al Rashid Hotel.

“Everything is going back to its natural way,” said Ahmed Assadee, a screenwriter who works on a soap opera. ”

The sheer irony of this situation is completely delicious, is it not? The war in Iraq was started by a God-fearing Christian administration that resulted in a sectarian backlash that was Shiite vs. Sunni, and now that things are settling down, sin is back in vogue.

And also appears to have the approval of local authority.

“One police detective said he would not dream of enforcing the law against prostitutes. ‘They’re the best sources we have,’ said the detective, whose name is being withheld for his safety. ‘They know everything about JAM and Al Qaeda members,’ he said, using the acronym for Jaish al-Mahdi or Mahdi Army a Shiite militia.”

“The detective added that the only problem his men had was that neighbors got the wrong idea when detectives visited the houses where prostitutes were known to live. They really do just want to talk, he said. “

“‘If I had my way, I’d destroy all the mosques and spread the whores around a little more,’ the detective said. ‘At least they’re not sectarian.’”

Thank God for that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Texas Legislature Defunds Texas Governor

When one person turns up his nose at $555 million proffered to the unemployed and underemployed in his state, you know things are going to go bad for him.

First, Governor Perry says “No” to over half a billion dollars meant to alleviate the pain of thousands of Texans who are caught without jobs in a dried-up job market, then the Legislature vows to step up and accept the funding. And yesterday, in a preliminary vote, it looks like the Texas Senate is going to do just that.The twelve Senate Democrats were joined by 10 of their Republican colleagues in passing the measure that would change Texas law to enable the state to accept the federal dollars.

Because when it is a choice between making thousands of lives more comfortable in these uncomfortable times, and making a petty political point, the Legislature opts for the former, and the Governor is usually a chump for the latter.

And in a fit of pique, the Governor again made a laughing stock of himself and 18% of all Texans in his veiled threat to exercise Texas’ unique ability to secede from the Union rather than knuckle under to the pressures from Washington. A unique ability that exists only in the minds of the clueless.

Earlier the governor announced that he will veto any legislation that they pass to enable Texas to claim these funds from the federal government.

This was followed close on with a House vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow legislators to return to a legislative session after it had ended for the purpose of overriding any vetoes a governor makes after the legislative session ends.

Back and forth, back and forth.

And now it appears that the legislature is upping the ante. They are voting to defund the governor’s office. From the Austin American-Statesman:

“The House voted this afternoon to strip almost all of the money out of the budget Gov. Rick Perry uses to pay his staff and operate his office.”

“During debate over the proposed state budget for the next two years, the House voted for an amendment by Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, to move about $4 million from the governor’s office to veterans’ programs.”

“Then the House approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, to more than $18 million out of the governor’s office and into mental health crisis services.“

And in one more move, after whittling more and more from the governor’s office in order to fund some really much-needed projects (implying, I guess, that the governor’s office is anything but much-needed), the legislature informed the governor that he could keep his $136 million Enterprise Fund if Texas could get that $555 million from the feds.

See what you can accomplish when bipartisanship rules the day?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Americans For The Secession of Texas

If you live for any length of time in The Republic of Texas you get to hear a native Texan proudly inform you that Texas, because it came into the Union through a treaty, has the right to secede from the United States at any time.

This, as it turns out is not exactly true, but why quibble with a few facts?

But the whole thing came to the front pages of newspapers and featured as a leading news item in the media from coast to coast, and around the world because its governor shot off at the mouth about it at a couple or three TEA rallies this week.

Notably at a TEA rally at Austin, where Governor Rick Perry whipped up a decidedly anti-Obama crowd with the idea that Texas is better equipped to run its economy better than other states and should not be told by the federal government how to run its affairs. His remarks elicited cries of “Secede!” from the Austin crowd as they roared their approval back at him. He later explained his remarks to a reporter.

“There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.”

Where Perry is wrong, and where most Texans have it a little twisted, is that Texas never came into the Union by treaty. Yes, there was a Treaty of Annexation, but in the 1844 US Senate, rather than ratify the treaty by a required two-thirds majority, the treaty was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 16 to 35. Mexico, they knew would declare war on the United States if they annexed Texas. The next year, however, James Polk, an advocate of American expansionism (Manifest Destiny, he called it) produced an end run. Knowing the Senate wouldn’t ratify a treaty, he had his allies submit the treaty as a Joint Resolution, which did pass.

This, as bemoaned at this website, is why Texas was never legally annexed to the United States.

So, while only 18% of your run of the mill Texan thinks that secession is a knee slapper of a good idea, I think I’m with them. I think I’d like to form an organization to help them along: Americans for the Secession of Texas.

Heck, why not? If you buy into the historical facts, Texas never WAS legally admitted to the Union. It has been a sham that has lasted for 164 years.

So I’m all for it. Let us Americans give the people of Texas the independence that they crave. Texas is, after all, in the Governor's own words "a unique place." It even has its own electrical grid for cripes sakes. Texas gave America George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Ross Perot, NCLB and Astroturf. Surely America can return the favor.

Oh, but that $17 billion that we Americans are giving to Texans? That’s off.

And NASA and the Johnson Space Center?

Moving to California.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More From the Sugar Land TEA Party

I wish I had a nickel for every hit that this blog’s website has gotten over the past day.

A dime for every comment left.

And a quarter for every comment I had to delete because of foul language.

I told you. It’s kray-ZEE here. Here where we have a governor who repeatedly mentions the fact that Texas is the only state in the country that entered the union under a treaty – so is entitled to secede, we have hard core conservatives who object to the fact that one can have another partisan viewpoint than their own.

Both opinions are out to lunch. One of these ideas was settled in 1865 after the deaths of six hundred thousand. The other one, apparently, has yet to be settled.

So with that as prologue, here are more photos of the TEA party that took place yesterday in front of the Sugar Land, Texas city hall.

First, here is a shot of the crowd. There were lots of people there. Look closely. Do you see anyone, ANYone who isn’t a white person? These people agree with each other so well that they also agree about which race should attend this political rally.

This, by the way, was the second political rally I attended in front of the Sugar Land city hall. The other one you can see here. Yes, the contrast in sheer numbers in attendance is staggering, isn’t it?

OK, I exaggerated a little. There was one black guy there. There he is third one from the right. This is a shot of all of the people who were going to speak. Or so I assumed because each one of those that I listened to are in this photo.

Here is one of the many handmade signs. A lot cleaner and less offensive than the one I showed yesterday, huh? Yeah, you would think. The other side of this sign has exactly the same message.

This is the guy who gave the invocation. I have video of some of it.

Now they had a cowboy band playing before the speeches got underway, and I thought that this trunk was open for donations. But upon closer inspection we see that the trunk has a bunch of tea bags in it. They’re for Pete Olson to take back to DC next week. Hope the drug dogs are on their break when he checks it in at the airport. Who knows what kind of tea these people might have put in it?

And last but not least, as I was making an exit I came across Carlos Cain’s campaign truck. Not a bad idea to try and attract some voters to his cause at this venue.

Now on the speakers, I could only take so much, so I did leave before hearing all of them.

But I did get to hear the black guy. As it turns out he was a Libertarian, and as such, was really the only one speaking that wasn’t hijacking the event. I have video of part of what this guy said, mainly because if I told you what he said you wouldn’t believe me.

The black guy used the “C” word on this crowd. Choice. “Without choice,” he said, “we have tyranny.” I don’t know if it was just me or not, but I swear I heard a collective sucking in of air when he said that. And I have to tell you, this is the only speaker that I found myself smiling and nodding my head to.

The pastor who gave the invocation was really in his element. I’ve never heard politics and religion so tightly interwoven in one prayer. It apparently didn’t faze the crowd though, who appeared to be quite used to this.

The master of ceremony who got to introduce each act . . . er . . . speaker I’ve never heard of before. He’s a small business owner. He owns the “La Madeleine” restaurant in Sugar Land. Really, just a stone’s throw from where we all stood. No, I’m not kidding. The rally’s emcee owns a French restaurant. The crowd didn’t hold that against him but I had to wonder whether I was the only one in the crowd who grasped the irony of all of that.

And thankfully, Pete Olson was one of the first speakers. This, I reasoned, was probably because the TV cameras were there and these guys have to have this in for the 10 o’clock news program.

Olson only spoke for 7 minutes or so. The best parts were where he lamented the higher taxes that they were all going to have to pay, and for a dozen or so people who were listening, this was actually probably true. He had some fighting words, too. “Today is the day,” he said, “we start to take our country back.” And finally, he brought his daughter to the podium so she could show the sign that they took from a girl at a TEA rally the day before. I assumed that they asked for it.

OK, OK, here’s the video as promised. Nothing fancy. Just a few clips that I spliced together.