Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leo Berman: Evangelicals “Don’t Understand” the Politics of Immigration

A very real schism is forming among conservatives. It is a schism that is most certainly a deal breaker in Republican politics, as evidenced by an observation of immigration hardliner State Rep. Leo Berman (R - Intolerance). One that I am very taken with.

Let me set this up. If you are conservative you look at the issue of immigration in one of three ways: 1) the visions of Evangelicals, 2) the views of conservative businessmen, and 3) the vomit of hardliners.

Evangelicals are family oriented and see the need for having “a solid balance between justice and compassion.” Compassion, say, for the compassion they have to the millions of illegal aliens who would be separated from their American citizen relatives, splitting fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. Evangelicals don’t want to discuss immigration unless it has in it provisions for a “path to citizenship.”

Conservative businessmen are looking at immigration in terms of a need to cheaply fill the jobs in agriculture, hospitality, and construction that no American will do – at least not for the kind of pay that illegal aliens accept.

Hardliners want all illegal aliens to leave, no questions, ifs, ands or buts. They are by definition criminals when they broke the immigration laws.

It creates an alliance between Evangelicals and conservative businessmen against the third, more odious branch of conservatism – the hardliners.

And why are hardliners so . . . well . . . hard line about illegal aliens? Enter Leo Berman.

“Berman said he believes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is a path to creating Democratic voters.” 
“‘There's 25 million in the United States - you can't listen to the 8 million to 12 million numbers that come out of Washington every day - you're going to create an instant 25 million Democrats,’ Berman said.”

“‘I don't think these evangelical leaders understand that.’”

Twenty-five million Democratic votes. That’s what’s behind the hardliner objection to illegal aliens getting legal residency. Becoming naturalized Americans.

Because as Richard Land, an evangelical who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission very correctly observes:

“If the conservative coalition is going to be a governing coalition, it's going to have to include an awful lot of Hispanics, and you're not going to bring an awful lot of Hispanics into your coalition with anti-Hispanic immigration rhetoric.”

So are the hardliners who oppose a path to citizenship the racists we have all been led to believe they are? Maybe, maybe not. The only thing that is certain is that the hardliner position may be racially inspired, but it is most definitely a position that speaks directly to their hopes to retain or regain political power in America.

It’s nice though, to have your prejudices complement your desire for political power from time to time.

Ask Pol Pot whose Khmer Rouge once famously wrote this: “To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss.”

How White People are Going to Take Back “Their” Country

I love it when Teabaggers others of their ilk, like this old Southern white man, open their mouths to say what is on their fevered minds, don’t you?

Hilarity Notice: Some portions of this video may cause you to burst out in fits of uncontrollable laughter.

Now I didn’t pull a “Breitbart” or is it a “Sherrod” and selectively edit this video clip. I lopped off the portion at the end that advertises their website, but that is all. What you see is what I got via email yesterday.

It is my fervent hope that we get more of this kind of footage as the next two years go by. We need a guy likie this to talk down to those of us (so we can understand him) liberals and progressives to realize what is really at stake here. White people like this want to take America back – for them - and are delusional enough to think they can do this by trash-talking everyone else.

Thank you, Huckleberry, for making that video. For doing something that can only be described as the ultra-right wing’s best argument against itself.

UPDATE: Were you as dumbfounded at the last sentence as I was? If you were I have an answer for you. That is a quote from the recent western movie “Tombstone.” One that I haven’t ever seen. It refers to the character Doc Holliday, played in the movie by Val Kilmer, who volunteers to kill a guy named “Ringo.”

So yeah, like Sharron Angle’s proposal of a “2nd Amendment solution” for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, this was a veiled threat of assassination of the President of the United States.

2010 Texas School Accountability Ratings Are Out

As promised, the Texas Education Agency has put up its finalized listing of campuses and districts, ratings that are in large part boiled down from millions of test scores. You can find them here. They call these tests “high stakes” not only because they determine whether a student will advance to the next grade at key critical stages, whether a student will or will not graduate, but also whether a campus receives one of four ratings.

In descending order, campuses can be rated as Exemplary, Recognized, Academically Acceptable or Academically Unacceptable.

And for the second year, the Texas Projection Measure, an algorithm concocted at Pearson Education, is being used to predict whether a student will eventually achieve mastery level in a TAKS test. In doing that, if the TPM projects eventual TAKS mastery, the student’s result is moved to the mastery column and this a win for the campus and district toward its rating.

This algorithm has been the subject of much discussion this year, and for good reason. For example, a 10th grade student taking a science TAKS test is not affected by their scores. The TPM looks at the four different TAKS test that the 10th grader takes and from the performance of their peers, uses their performance on the 10th grade test to project whether the student will eventually pass the 11th grade exit level TAKS test.

The TPM, you could say, has served to increase the overall ratings of campuses. For example, just looking at high schools, which are the schools that are typically less likely to obtain an Exemplary rating, in 2010 there are 201 Exemplary schools. Five or so years ago, if memory serves, there were 13.

But this isn’t really the main problem with TPM campus rating inflation, is it? The main problem is at the other end. How many, I wonder, Academically Acceptable high school campuses are there that have been given that rating based on the TPM? In all, there are 347 high school campuses in Texas rated as Academically Acceptable (there are 37 high school campuses rated at Academically Unacceptable). But this is not a thing easily answered because the TEA will not produce a sorted table that includes whether the TPM impacted the rating.

You have to work for it.

So I looked at a 10% sampling and found out of 37 AA schools, only two of them were assigned that rating because of the TPM.

So that’s assuring.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Obama On “The View”

I don’t watch “The View.” Indeed, I don’t watch any daytime interview shows that come on after 7 AM. It seems like there is an hour, maybe 8 AM, maybe 9 AM, when the assumed audience of commercial TV stations becomes female.

And this, occurring in the last year of the first decade of the 21st century, floors me. That the assumption is that the television viewers at home are women because their menfolk are all off at work seems so backward to me.

So I don’t watch “The View” because it does have that feminine slant that I, as a male, just don’t “get.”

But I knew that President Barack Obama was going to be on “The View” today because it made all the news programs that I saw last night. I guess that is news because no sitting president has ever come on a daytime interview television show before (and again, this floors me – why has it taken this long?). So when I was again reminded this morning about the program, one that I vowed to view, as it were, I had to Google “The View” to see when it came on.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered that it had been airing since 10 AM CDT, and it was at that moment 10:23. So I did catch a piece of it, but will have to log on to ABC tomorrow to see the part that I missed on their streaming video.

This is the part that has been shown on the news programs, a part that I missed, naturally. It is a pretty good piece, and yes, I heartily agree with the President that when your kids are older, but not yet teenagers, that is a really good time to be a parent.

Blogger Breitbart To Be Sued

Shirley Sherrod, who lost her job at the USDA over a heavily edited video clip of her speech at an NAACP event from 24 years ago is getting ready to sue Andrew Breitbart, the dim bulb that posted the devilishly hacked up video on his website.

My feeling is that Breitbart, in his zeal to shoot one back at the NAACP for its manifesto issued to the TEA Party to remove racists and racism from their numbers and from their rhetoric, over objectivized Ms. Sherrod. He didn’t see Shirley Sherrod as a person, and whether that is a racist tendency I will leave to you, he merely saw an opportunity to paint the NAACP in ways that whites fear the most: that blacks are out to get them.

That the message that Ms. Sherrod actually delivered, one that had quite the opposite meaning than Breitbart was willing to give her credit for, actually makes his heinous act worse.

But to get back to my main point, perhaps this is valuable a lesson for Andrew Breitbart and others of his ilk. That when you seek to bend and twist the words of another, it’s one thing to make your political point, which is what I think was Breitbart’s full intention. But when the result causes a person to lose their livelihood and to be, for a brief time, vilified not only in the press but also by the very group she supported for all those many years, that takes the whole thing to a new level.

People commit fraud in the name of making a political point all the time. It is a huge game. Where it stops being a game is when it starts affecting the good name and the livelihood of another living breathing person.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Congressman Green Saving NASA Jobs; Olson Says He’ll Help

I was delighted to hear that Congressman Al Green of TX-9 filed a bill on Monday, HR 5855 to be specific, that allocates $80 million in federal funds to pay to retrain or otherwise help NASA employees, and others, whose jobs will be negatively impacted by the cancellation of the Ares/Constellation manned spaceflight program.

TX-9 is a congressional district that lies just east of the Johnson Space Center plant, but commuting being what it is, as well as downstream effects of job losses in the region, this bill will inevitably work to directly benefit some of Green’s constituents.

Pete Olson, whose TX-22 district does include the JSC plant also signed on to this bill as a co-sponsor, the only one listed at this writing, although the article at Fort Bend Now indicates that Congressman Gene Green and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee have since included their names on the co-sponsor list.

Now I think it’s great that Olson has signed on in support of a bill, authored by a Democrat, that directly benefits thousands of his own constituents. It makes me wonder, though, why such a bill didn’t originate from his office, and that led me to conclude that when push comes to shove, Olson will eventually vote No on passage of this bill, and in doing so will join the steadily growing crowd of Republican legislators who co-sponsor a bill that they eventually vote against.

Now why do I say this? Well for one thing, being the congressman whose district includes NASA, Olson couldn’t very well avoid putting a stamp of approval on a bill that is expressly written to benefit his own constituents. But if you read the bill you have to ask from where do they get these funds to pay for the job retraining program? The answer is not apparent. Olson doesn’t vote for things that are unfunded, even if they serve to benefit his own constituents, like the unfunded unemployment extension bill that he voted against. But because this bill directly targets his constituents, Olson couldn’t very well refuse Green’s appeal to support his bill by co-sponsoring it.

After all, it makes good press.

And when Olson votes against the bill, if it ever comes up for a vote, you’ll not see that reported in the press.

But you will see it here.

Texas Governor’s Race Moved to “Toss-Up”

After living a few years here in Texas, you finally get used to how they do things. Like for instance during the summer. In the summertime in California you open all the windows in your house and you spend as much time outside as you possibly can. In Texas, during the summertime, you close all your house’s windows tightly and stay inside, looking out your windows from time to time to see whether it has stopped raining yet.

So it came as no surprise to me when, in 2008, while most of the rest of the country elected America’s first black president, Texas went the other way and voted for a guy that cheated on his wife while she was in the process of dying from cancer and the most unqualified running mate since Dan Quayle.

It didn’t surprise me at all. You come to expect these things after awhile.
So when I read today in the Washington Post, specifically in the column authored by Chris Cillizza called “The Fix” that he and a “senior political reporter” had moved the Texas gubernatorial race from “leans Republican” to “toss-up” I was similarly not surprised. Here’s a map that shows all of the toss-up states.

California and Texas are the same color.

I was not surprised because this mid-term election, after all, is supposed to be favoring the party that is not in power, we are told, and that is why the Republicans are all jumping around rubbing their hands in anticipation.

So while the national trend is to the right, or more likely, to the center, Texas shifted toward the left just inside of the 100 day mark until the General Election.

Here is what Cillizza says about the Texas governor’s race:
“Texas (Move from Lean Republican to Toss Up): Former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) has more money in the bank than Gov. Rick Perry (R) and polling shows the contest close. It's still Texas in a good Republican year, which should help Perry, but White is running an effective campaign to capitalize on discontent directed at the incumbent.”
Boy, I’ll say. Rick Perry presents a target-rich environment for Texans to focus their collective angst upon. Lately, the Bill White campaign has focused some attention on the media reports of Rick Perry’s Horseshoe Bay land deal, something I mentioned here. What is new in this is how the dots have all been connected now, and we see how making Rick Perry rich, despite a paltry salary that doesn’t even come close to a Texas football coach’s pay (or a Bell, California City Manager’s salary for that matter), is all related to getting appointments to the University of Texas Board of Regents.

It gives you a special insight in the current governor’s dedication to Texas’ system of higher education, knowing that he makes sure to stack the governing board of the UT system, with friends, lackeys and rich people who are not averse to parting with some long green to buy a state governor’s appointment.

It sort of redefines the term “public service,” doesn’t it?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010: The Year of the Independent?

I was very much taken with the Chronicle’s Fort Bend County blog covering the grand opening of the coordinated campaign headquarters of the Fort Bend Democratic Party.

Taken by it because of its air of breathy unreality whose theme was given away by the lead: Are Democrats Staging a Comeback? A question, not a statement.

Locals remember Fort Bend County as a staunch ultra-right wing bastion of conservative and neoconservative politics. Tom DeLay’s base. And as such, Republicans, who hold nearly every elected office in the county, have claimed, and rightly so, primacy in the county. They have even gone to the extent of projecting a sense of invincibility that permeates almost all areas of the county, even to the extent of fostering a sense of defeatism among Democrats.

But I take to heart the remarks of the new Democratic Party Chairman, Steve Brown:

“‘This county is now home to wonderfully diverse communities and families. Today, the face of Fort Bend reflects a tapestry of ethnicities and cultures,’ Brown said.”
Yes, the demographics in Fort Bend County are changing; shifting slowly but surely toward a Democratic majority. Figures don’t lie. If you look at the past 4 general elections, and not at the hotly contested races that evoke strong feelings, but the ones that reveal base political trends, that is, low key statewide and judicial races, you see a clear trend. For your convenience I will summarize the trend below, but you can peruse the raw data that I have gleaned from the county elections results if you like.

Republicans lost 3.74% of the vote between 2002 and 2004, 3.25% of the vote between 2004 and 2006, and 1.4% of the vote between 2006 and 2008. Looking at just one statewide race, Supreme Court Chief Justice, the Republican won in 2002 with 59.18% of the vote, but barely eked a majority in Fort Bend County with 51.3% of the vote in 2008. This one race mirrors the trend, a loss of 8 percentage points in 6 years.

Democrats have beat Republicans in straight party votes in both 2006 and 2008, reversing the 2004 outcome.

A conservative projection of this trend in 2010 puts Democrats and Republicans at about parity. This is good news for swing voters and Independents who like their votes to count. This year, in Fort Bend County, at least, will be the Year of the Independent.

Supreme Court Chief Justice: R - 59.18% D - 39.55%
Supreme Court Justice Place 2: R - 58.71 % D – 39.9%
Criminal Appeals Court Judge Place 1: R - 59.12 % D – 38.46%
Criminal Appeals Court Judge Place 3: R - 59.02 % D – 38.48%

Straight Party Votes: R - 55.53 % D – 44.07%
Railroad Commissioner: R - 54.37 % D – 42.61%
Supreme Court Justice Place 9: R - 56.83 % D – 43.17%
Criminal Appeals Court Judge Place 6: R - 55.04 % D – 44.96%
Justice 1st Court of Appeals Place 4: R - 54.82 % D – 45.18%

Straight Party Votes: R - 47.82 % D – 51.27%
Supreme Court Justice Place 2: R - 52.46 % D – 45.84%
Justice 1st Court of Appeals Place 8: R - 52.31 % D – 47.69%
Justice 14th Court of Appeals Place 6: R – 51.285 % D – 42.551%

Straight Party Votes: R - 49.1 % D – 50.3%
Railroad Commissioner: R - 50.1 % D – 47.6%
Supreme Court Chief Justice: R - 51.3% D - 46.8%
Supreme Court Justice Place 7: R - 49.6 % D – 48.6%
Justice 1st Court of Appeals Place 5: R - 51.4 % D – 48.6%

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rick Perry For a 3rd Term as Texas Gov.: What’s Not to Like?

You really have to like Rick Perry. As the unelected Texas governor who took over for George W. Bush when he ascended to the US Presidency in 2001, and then as the re-elected governor who drew 29% of the popular vote, we have a lot to credit Rick Perry for.

Like for instance how Rick Perry nearly single-handedly got thousands of acres of prime Texas agricultural land confiscated through eminent domain so that a foreign-owned corporation could build and then toll on a ribbon of concrete he wanted them to build.

It was only caneclled when a bunch of short-sighted landowners and the public at large objected, and a general popular uprising was threatened that Perry had to abandon this far-reaching vision.

Like for instance how Rick Perry signed an executive order to require that thousands of eleven-year old Texas female schoolchildren  to receive a course of vaccinations for a strain of the Human Papilloma Virus or they wouldn’t be allowed to attend 6th grade.

After all, Merck, the maker of the vaccine stood to make a financial killing as a result of this executive order, and Rick Perry’s former chief-of-staff was then a paid lobbyist for Merck.

It was only brought to a screeching halt when the errant state legislature, fueled by outrage from parents from Beaumont to El Paso passed a bill nullifying Perry’s long-term vision quest for the health of all Texas children.

Like for instance how Rick Perry has helped keep Texas property values up, up, up by buying some lakefront property from a friend of his BFF for what seems to be $150,000 below market value, and then turned around a few years later to sell it to another friend of his BFF for what seems to be $350,000 above its appraised value.

Like for instance how Rick Perry appointed an earnest anti-science young-Earth creationist dentist to be chairman of the State Board of Education, which oversaw the revamping of the state’s K-12 science curriculum.

Only to have the State Senate vote not to confirm him in that office, but not until after some rather ill-deserved negative press tarnished the image of Texas from coast to coast, and some say, worldwide.

Like for instance how Rick Perry’s oversight on security in and around the Governor’s Mansion led to an unfortunate torching of same, resulting in his having to rough it in a rented Austin mansion and estate to the tune of $10,000 per month, plus plus.

Like how Rick Perry failed to commute the sentence of a self-described innocent father who lost his children in a fire, a fire that was laid at the feet of said father because of some really poor police forensics and laboratory work, and then acted to cover up that omission by appointing a foil to the Texas Forensic Science Commission which was in the process of reviewing that self-same botched forensics job.

Like how Rick Perry took $3 billion in federal economic stimulus money meant to ensure the continued employment of Texas’ teaching community, and used it instead to balance Texas’ budget.

Only to see the subsequent lay offs and reduction in force of thousands of Texas teachers over the ensuing months. Heck, they probably deserved it. Isn't Texas' drop-out rate the second highest in the US?

Like how Rick Perry turned down $555 million in federal funds meant to extend the unemployment benefits of thousands of Texas’ unemployed, only to replace it with a borrow and spend program likely to cost the state up to 4 times as much as what the feds offered.

Like how Rick Perry obtained national attention – and some say derision – when he failed to grasp the lesson heaped on The South when they lost “The War of Northern Aggression” ending for all time the notion that a state can secede from the Union whenever it takes a notion to.

Who can ever say that Texas deserved exactly what it got when it continually re-elected Rick Perry into one state office and then another for over two decades? Taking all of that into account, and all of Rick Perry’s accomplishments listed above, who can say that if Rick Perry is again returned to Austin Texas, at long last, will again get exactly what it deserves?

Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones at the Fort Bend Fish Fry

Jolanda Jones is well-known in the political beehive known as the City of Houston, but even though Fort Bend County has a mere 11 precincts within the City of Houston, she took some time out of her schedule to come to neighboring Fort Bend County to help Fort Bend Democrats initiate their 5000 square foot campaign headquarters.

She presented County Chair Steve Brown with a certificate.

I wonder if this gets him into Astros games for free . . .

Congressman Al Green: Shirley Sherrod “Received a Raw Deal”

I guess before we let the Fox/Breitbart Shirley Sherrod defamation scheme fade into the news of last week, as it already seems to be doing, I thought people should hear what Congressman Al Green had to say on the matter.

Green spoke to what we have all been thinking. The Obama Administration, as with the NAACP, acted too quickly to condemn Ms. Sherrod, but upon seeing their respective errors, both were quick to reverse themselves and acknowledge that they had made a huge mistake. They did. But imagine anyone in the Bush government doing anything like that. Not only did that not ever happen, it has not yet happened.

As a matter of fact, Republicans are now revealing that should they regain power in congress the failed agenda of the Bush administration will be carried out anew.

Not a pleasant thought.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fort Bend County Democratic Party Grand Opening Fish Fry

Well the Fort Bend Democratic Party held its first in a long, long time headquarters grand opening party today. A head count was difficult because people came and left at will, but at the height of the event estimates ran to about 200 to 250 attendees. Lots of new faces, lots of old faces, but one thing I am sure you can see in the arena pictures below, what Fort Bend County Democrats lack in church ladies and dirty old white men we more than make up for in diversity.

The anteroom was a place to meet and greet party goers, as we see here with Frederika Allen and her campaign manager. Frederika Allen is running for 240th District Court Judge.

It was also a place to get campaign paraphernalia and sign in at the guest table.

Standing in the food line you eventually got a plateful of fried catfish fried up by County Commissioner Richard Morrison, some potato salad and fried hush puppies, and then you got to slather any manner of sauce on top of any of that.

Not just a few speeches followed and I will have more on that tomorrow. I was keen to get something from Congressman Al Green on the Shirley Sherrod affair and he did not disappoint. Tune in later this week for video clips on that and others.

But finally as a crowning glory to the day we got to give the boot once more to the LaRouchenik Democrat who managed to get herself nominated in the March primary to run against Pete Olson, Kesha Rogers.

Rogers and her retinue decided to crash the party, perhaps with the mistaken notion that the Fort Bend Democratic Party would allow her a place at the podium, something that was never, never going to happen. Here is a bit of video that I shot of Kesha Rogers being shown the door.

Finishing her sentence ...

"what I look like without my tin foil hat."

On Playing Leapfrog

This past week’s angst over the despicable edit job done on Shirley Sherrod’s March speech to an NAACP audience should all serve us well. They are calling it a “teachable moment” and I as an educator fall right in line on that.

It is a teachable moment, and an event that should give us pause to reflect on what the media has become and how it has evolved, or in this case devolved.

The old farts in the media are surely gloating in their righteousness over how they see how the media has changed. One reporter this morning said that when he was a journalism student he was told that when he was told that his mother loved him, that he should run a fact check on that. And that is the way journalism was, and that is not the way it is now.

Because as, anyone with an internet browser knows, all you had to do was to Google Shirley Sherrod’s name and you would have come up with a whole host of questions that challenged the veracity of the video clip that was being played over and over again at conservative “news” outlets.

And a little further digging and you would have seen the truth. But knees jerk and jerks knee others unfairly in uncomfortable areas.

Blogging, you might say, or if you are kind, “citizen journalism” has been the biggest new thing to affect information exchange in this new century. Any political blog, and this is one of them, has succumbed to the taking up of a news event to further their political agendas. I hope to have the right to say that I do fact-checking from time to time, and when a fact doesn’t hold water, or when I find I am too close to what is in the news, I have self-censored this blog.

There are some very evil people out there with some very distasteful agendas. Let this latest “snookering” be a lesson for all of us, from the White House to the apartment house, not to let things that conveniently support a radical agenda, either left- or rightwing, bend our judgment.

Let’s leave jumping to conclusions to amphibians and others of their ilk.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Millions for Charter Schools, But Not One Dime for Textbooks

On Friday Texas’ internationally famous state school board reversed itself and passed another motion that should endear themselves to media pundits who love to hate what Texas’ educational institutions are doing to their own school children.

They voted to invest $100 million from the $22 billion Texas Permanent Fund, a fund that is supported by the sale and lease of public lands, including mineral rights, and net realized gains from the sale of Fund assets, to invest in developing and leasing buildings for charter schools, which are privately managed public schools.

The Texas Permanent Fund is a fund that is completely overseen by the State Board of Education. Texas Charter schools, however, are answerable to no one.

Still, according to this article in the Austin American-Statesmen, that is what the majority on the board decided to do, spend public money for charter schools that are run by private companies.

They decided to do that instead of doing something that is more in line with the founding purpose of the Texas Permanent Fund, that is the funding of public schools, and in one particular case of interest, the funding of the purchase of school text books.

Because this year, facing a budget shortfall, instead of invoking use of Permanent School Funds to be used to buy school textbooks, the school board is instead putting off the entire book buying thing.

$100 million of which will now be diverted toward funding of charter schools, this despite the fact that 71 school charters were pulled in the past due to low performance, a rate that exceeds public school failures.

But this is the state you live in, you know? The SBOE was handed the Permanent Fund purse strings several years ago and no one in the Republican Party, the party in power, and the party that saw that handover take place, objected.

As this article suggests, all of that may come to a screeching halt next year when the State Legislature convenes.

After all, when you give a fortune in state funds to a band of kleptomaniacs you are bound to reap what you sow, and the only way to solve it is to snatch it back from them.

It's Party Time at the Fort Bend County Democratic Party HQ

Most Fort Bend County residents don’t even remember the last time they saw the local Democratic Party open a party campaign headquarters during a mid-term election let alone during a presidential election year. Mainly because if they were alive, they were either too young to vote the last time that occurred, or they were living in other places.

I, for instance, was living half way around on the other side of the world the last time the Fort Bend County Democratic Party had a campaign headquarters.

But a Democratic headquarters grand opening is exactly what is going to happen tomorrow at 2:30 PM on Sunday, July 25th 2010.

It will be a sight not to be missed.

Located near the geographic center of Fort Bend County, the campaign headquarters sits just outside of downtown Richmond, the county seat of Fort Bend County, on the right bank of the Brazos River, with the east and west bound lanes of Highway 90A bordering it on the north and south, at 51 East US 90A. [map].

The facility features a large utility/work/meeting room with offices and an area to sell (or outright give away) campaign paraphernalia whose proceeds go toward funding the fall campaign, and a very large “arena” for mass meetings such as will be held tomorrow.

Tomorrow, bring your appetite, your camera and lots of folding green to buy a fish-fry dinner prepared by County Commissioner Richard Morrison.

New county party T-Shirts will be on sale as well as lawn signs that declare our loud presence.

There is even a chance to pick up a new campaign T-shirt and/or lawn sign that is sure to set your Republican neighbors’ teeth on edge even more than the highly successful
“Had Enough” signs from past campaigns.

And then in case you need to stock up for 2012, there will be some “Obama stuff” on sale as well.

Your Democratic candidates will be there in force as well as elected officials who are not running or are running for re-election with no opposition.

Someone said that there would be a “Moonwalk” for the kids, although I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Anyway if you’re looking for something to do on Sunday, and you don’t mind if you spend it with people who still like it when Democrats win, then you know what to do. If on the other hand, you want to bide your time until the Party of the Dark Side figures out which of their varied agenda-driven factions wins out over a choice of a party headquarters, then go ahead and bide.

But holding of breath is not recommended.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Unemployment Relief is On the Way

At 2:13 PM EDT yesterday the House voted on HR 4213, the Unemployment Compensation act of 2010, or rather on the Senate Amendment to the House Amendment of HR 4213, and it finally passed by a roll call vote of 272 Yeas to 152 Nays.

That is, the Feds voted to extend unemployment insurance benefits through 2010 to the hundreds of thousands of families who have had trouble finding jobs in these very troubling times.

31 Republicans rediscovered their human souls and jumped across their party line to vote with the Democratic majority, and 10 Democrats shamefully voted with 149 Republicans against unemployed American families.

My congressman, Pete Olson of TX-22, despite the show he made the other day of having huge concerns about businesses laying off their employees as deepwater oil rigs stand at idle – whether or not there is an officially declared deepwater drilling moratorium – my congressman voted No.
Voted No against the thousands of southeast Texas families that have a hard time trying to find a way back to the workplace.

Voted No against Americans when they themselves are not at fault for being unemployed. That fault, lying with his own Republican Party that unleashed Wall Street, an act that eventually brought the American economy to its knees(if not the entire world’s economy).

Pete Olson and those 148 other Republicans, and yes, those 10 Democrats, should be ashamed of themselves.

Shame to those who, for the first time in history, threatened to withhold real relief from suffering families.

Shame, shame, shame.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

$$$ To Promote American Historical Documents?

I noticed a sign stuck in some dirt next to a 3-way intersection today. It roused my curiousity mainly because it did something that I have seen for the very first time.

It appended dollar-signs next to a message exhorting the reader to "Promote the Constitution."

Make money by promoting the Constitution? This can only be a neoconservative nocturnal emmission. 

Here is a close-up of the sign.

Here is the website: (warning, this site can elicit mirth).

Here is an applicable definition.

What Should Shirley Do?

The radicals of the rightwing have pulled another con game, and one middle-aged black woman was the target.

Well, no, the confidence that Americans have in their own government, and in their own institutions was the target. Shirley Sherrod was collateral damage, even though someone painted the laser beam on her while someone else released the laser-guided bomb.

On her.

And the bomb landed and did its damage. Sherrod was out of her job at the USDA, but more importantly, the entire Obama Administration was seen, momentarily, as an administration desperately trying to cover up the fact that their employees were actively engaged in reverse discrimination.

Momentarily, because someone bothered to stop and listen to what Sherrod was saying. And them someone else stopped to view the entire speech in which right wingers charged they had her crowing about her success in getting some payback from white people. Only to find that she was speaking to the reverse of the philosophy that right wingers were trying to hang on her.

In short, speaking to a philosophy that makes neoconservative Republicans’ blood run cold: a black woman who was once the object of racial discrimination herself speaking to the politics of a post-racial America. Speaking to the politics of abandoning past recriminations in favor of a future-vision of colorblindness in America.

A vision, that neoconservatives confirmed for her was still yet just a vision. The last thing that neoconservatives want is racial reconciliation, even though clearly that is still year away.

But the whole thing blew up in their faces. The story was more powerful than their ability to obfuscate and out-shout those who discovered their dastardly conspiracy. They are now running for cover.

So now, what should Shirley do?

Clearly this is fertile ground for a lawsuit. Someone took a perfectly reasonable 40 minute speech and trimmed it to give someone the idea that she was espousing the opposite of the purpose of her speech.

Someone did this and tracing that back to the origin these days is child’s play.

Should Ms. Sherrod take the new job being offered to her? Really it depends on what the rest of the offer is. If this offer is to get her to be good and not talk about this, then no, she should turn the job down. I don’t know her, but I get the impression that this would certainly run against her grain as it does mine.

How does she live then? What does Ms. Sherrod do to keep food on the table?

My short bulleted list:

  • A book
  • By Fall, with book signature tours.
  • Screen rights.
  • A campaign to get “Sherrod” included in Webster’s Dictionary as a verb, meaning to take a person’s well-meaning statements on racial equality and twisting them to mean the opposite by those seeking to worsen racial divisions.
I'm sure there is more we can do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paradox: The Congressional TEA Party Caucus

I was captivated, and not surprised, by the news, issued last Thursday by CongressCrazy Michelle Bachmann had sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi requesting her permission to allow formation of a new caucus in Congress: the TEA Party Caucus.

Captivated in that I had a hard time trying to figure out how someone who is ostensibly a Washington, DC insider, an elected congressman no less, has the gall to organize a caucus within Congress that endorses the notions of Teabaggers who are rather shrill in their demands for the replacement of all congressional incumbents.

It’s sort of like Jews for Jesus. It’s kind of like Alcoholics for Prohibition.

But given the originator, Michelle Bachmann, who is demonstrably a few peas short of a casserole, I was not at all surprised at the move.

And for the longest time, no one stepped up and signed on to the new congressional caucus, a complete list of which you can find here.

And so today I waited with bated breath as the first meeting of the TEA Party Caucus was held at 10 AM EDT to see who, if anyone, signed up for this group – a group, I will remind you that is in solidarity with those that support the replacement of . . . well . . . the caucus members.

And I finally found a comprehensive list of the 35 members here.

But what really caught my eye, again not surprisingly, was that the caucus was joined by seven, now eight members of the Texas delegation. That’s right, nearly a full one quarter of the initial caucus members are from Texas, another fun fact of which we can all be proud.

Teabaggers from the Texas Delegation follows: Joe Barton (R-British Petroleum), Michael Burgess (R – Fort Worth), John Carter (R – Round Rock), John Culberson (R - Houston), Louie Gohmert (R - Tyler), Pete Sessions (R -Dallas), Randy Neugebauer (R - Amarillo) and Lamar Smith (R – San Antonio).

What, no Pete Olson? Has Pete Olson distanced himself from the Teabaggers since last April when he was the highest ranking speaker at their Teabagger rally in April 2009 in Sugar Land?

Apparently not.

Add to that list of dim bulbs the following: Mike Pence (R - Ind) – the only one of these jokers, by the way, in a leadership position in the House, Paul Broun (R - Ga), Joe Wilson (R – You Lie), Steve King (R- Iowa), Dan Burton (R - Ind), Todd Akin (R – Mo), Roscoe Bartlett (R - Md), Gus Billirackus (R-Fla), John Fleming (R - La), Trent Franks (R - Az), Phil Gingrey (R - Ga), Walter Jones (R - NC), Doug Lamborn (R - Colo), Cynthia Lummis (R – Wyo.), Jerry Moran (R - Kan), Tom Price (R - Ga), Cliff Stearns (R - Fla), Rodney Alexander (R -La), Rob Bishop (R - Utah), Tom Graves (R - Ga), Tom McClintock (R - Calif), Denny Rehberg (R -Mont), Adrian Smith (R - Nev), Cliff Stearns (R - Fla) and Todd Tiahrt (R - Kan).

At first blush, one look at this crew and you realize that the cover that Teabaggers like to associate to themselves, that is, the “bipartisan” label, is totally blown here. These aren’t Independents. These aren’t representatives of the “right of center” that Teabaggers like to identify themselves with, these are from the right wing of the Republican Party.

Even the Libertarian crowd in Congress – and Libertarianism is at the root of the TEA Party Movement, neither Ron Paul nor Ted Poe have allied themselves with the TEA Party Caucus.

Indeed the ones that might be considered more moderate in the Republican Party, have pointedly excluded themselves from the TEA Party Caucus.

And three individuals previously named in the caucus have either withdrawn their names or their staff has denied their involvement: Gary Miller (R – Calif.), Todd Akin (R – Mo), Pete Hoekstra (R - Mich).

In short, these 35 minus 3, Republicans all, have identified themselves with the voting bloc that are more likely to vote against the incumbent, whether they are Democratic or Republican.

So it’s nice then, that these 32 Republicans are self identified as incumbent candidates that Teabaggers are urged to vote against because they, as incumbents, have joined their number.

Normally I would end this piece with the words “It can’t get weirder than this” except that there is something down deep inside me that tells me that I would be premature in making that pronouncement.

I really don’t think we have found the bottom of this thing yet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To Refudiate or Not to Refudiate, That is the Pedestrian

Sarah Palin appears to be channeling one of my favorite standup comics from awhile ago.

Norm Crosby.

You know, the guy who made a living out of malapropisms?

Indeed, Norm Crosby was known as the "Master of Malaprop."

He’s the guy who used to build an entire comic standup routine by stringing together words, words found in the dictionary or not, it made no difference, in order to describe a situation.

He even made commercials stringing one malapropism next to another, but somehow, if you put some thought to it, you created order out of chaos.

Which was probably the whole purpose of letting Crosby do his routine, you had to think about what he was saying.

Or trying to say.

Getting us back to Sarah Palin. I doubt that she had the slightest intention of mangling her words because people already suspect that she is living on the bleeding edge of her ability to communicate. That she gave in at the end and compared herself to William Shakespeare, who is known to have made up some of his own words, is the ultimate in “self-servitude.”

Shakespeare gave us such words, so common in the English language now, as “bump” and “ding-dong.” He formed words from sounds. Sarah Palin formed a word that stands half way between refute and repudiate, but one that actually means neither.

The difference between Sarah Palin and William Shakespeare is this: Sarah Palin is a former politician with nothing of substance to say, and William Shakespeare is the most revered playwright in the English language.

My guess is that if Sarah Palin really puts her mind to it, she can come up with a word that sounds like the sound of the word. Here, for instance, is the word Sarah Palin could come up with that sounds like the act of deep, concentrated thought:

"                ."

Rick Perry’s Solution to the High School Dropout Rate: A Study of Stunning Ignorance in High Office

Did you know that Governor Rick Perry has finally, once and for all, solved the onerous problem that Texas has in having the second highest high school dropout rate in the country?

My God the man’s a genius.

First Perry announced that someone in the legislature should file a bill that gives tax incentives to small business owners that allow employees without a high school diploma to get some paid time off so that they can get a diploma through night school or paid time off to study for a test to get their GED.

That’s what we call “the carrot approach,” a benign reward system. And this was a grand idea until it was pointed out, here for instance, that the program’s limit of 1000 individuals per year would merely scratch the surface of the hundreds of thousands who could benefit from Perry’s proposed plan.

No problem. Governor Perry is used to setbacks like this. The problem is apparently more acute and their sheer numbers perhaps require more Machiavellian measures.

Enter “the stick approach.”

Last Thursday, on July 15th, Rick Perry unveiled his latest initiative, one that he hopes will finally, once and for all, solve Texas’ very serious dropout rate. From KHOU’s website
“HOUSTON -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry says students who drop out of school shouldn’t be able to get a driver’s license and he called for new legislation to enforce his plan to keep kids in school.”

“‘If you are of high school age and you are not in a bricks and mortar or virtual school, you’re not going to get a driver’s license, it’s that simple,’ Perry said during a press conference Monday. ‘The fact is, a single drop out is too many, so we’ve got to continue pursuing sensible, proven options and give every Texan an option at a better life.’”

“Perry said the idea shouldn’t be considered punishment, but an incentive to stay in school.”

“‘It’s going to take a member of the legislature to introduce it and it’s going to take massaging to get it through the process, but I hope they see the incentive and the wisdom of using that incentive approach to keep our young people in either a virtual high school or a bricks and mortar high school,’ he said.”
Now first, before anyone goes off on Rick Perry for proposing this, proposing a law be passed that would seriously cut into individual freedom, a law that would put serious limitations on the social lives of countless Texas citizens aged 16 to 18, before you go and label Rick Perry a monster for proposing this new legislation, consider this:

Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Subtitle B, § 521.204: RESTRICTIONS ON MINOR

(a) The department may issue a Class C driver's license to an applicant under 18 years of age only if the applicant:

(1) is 16 years of age or older;

(2) has submitted to the department a driver education certificate issued under Section 9A, Texas Driver and Traffic Safety Education Act (Article 4413(29c), Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes), that states that the person has completed and passed a driver education course approved by the department under Section 521.205 or by the Texas Education Agency;

(3) has obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent or is a student:

(A) enrolled in a public school, home school, or private school who attended school for at least 80 days in the fall or spring semester preceding the date of the driver's license application; or

(B) who has been enrolled for at least 45 days, and is enrolled as of the date of the application, in a program to prepare persons to pass the high school equivalency exam; and

(4) has passed the examination required by Section 521.161.
[Emphasis is mine].

One might excuse the governor his extreme ignorance if perhaps he didn’t have children. But Rick Perry does. My guess is that both of his children at one point, got a Verification of Enrollment form from their high school’s registrar so they could get a Texas driver’s license while attending high school.

Mine did.

The Bill White Campaign, upon hearing of Rick Perry’s bold new plan, issued this statement:

“‘Unfortunately for Rick Perry, this law has been on the books since 1989 and he's been responsible for enforcing it. Only a career politician would try to sell a law already in existence as his own slick new idea,’ said Katy Bacon, campaign spokesperson. ‘We need a governor who's actually going to work on the dropout crisis instead of dredging up election year sound bites.’”

I think in issuing that statement the White Campaign treated Rick Perry very humanely. After all, calling someone an ignoramus is a little harsh, and should be left to to bloggers like me. 

In their statement they implied that Perry must have known about the existing law. All he was doing was some slick electioneering because no one in the press was going to catch this. No one is going to recall that this is an existing program.

And in that last part they were right. No one caught it.

But what is truly tragic is that this has been the law of the land for over 20 years now, and it is abundantly clear that it has done nothing to curb the dropout rate. A rate that has risen since the bill became law.

Making it altogether clear to me at least that Rick Perry not only has no new ideas, but he also has no knowledge of things that have been tried, and failed. In short, Rick Perry exhibits, in this proposal, a shocking display of ignorance.

What should be clear by now, if we have learned anything, is that you don’t solve Texas’ dropout problem by throwing money at other situations that are unrelated to the problem, and you don’t penalize people for being high school drops out by depriving them of legitimacy.

The high school dropout rate in Texas is like a disease. You don’t treat a disease by adding more unpleasant experiences to the list of symptoms; you treat a disease by attacking the cause.

In short, you do the kind of thing that Bill White began as Mayor of Houston: meet with dropouts face to face and convince them that it is in their own best interest to return to class.

What we need right now are thinkers, doers, and achievers. Bill White knows how to get things done. The very last thing we need in Texas right now is four more years of Ignorance in High Office.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Texas Projection Measure: Wanted Dead, But Alive

Where else but in Texas can you have it where a program’s flaws have been so seriously exposed, even in the press, but its consequence will remain, and is expected to remain, for yet another year to come?

But that is the nature of how things work in the public sector. The flaws of any given system in the public sector can be exposed to the extent of doing real damage to institutions and to individuals, but the program itself is allowed to stand.

In less than 2 weeks time, the TEA will release its campus and district accountability ratings, ratings that are in large part based on the high-stakes test known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS. And included in that system of campus ratings and accountability is the newly applied Texas Projection Measure or TPM. Newly applied as in new to the ratings of campuses and districts in the 2008-2009 school year.

The 2008-09 school year is a year that saw a jump in the numbers of campuses and districts rated as Exemplary, the grand majority of these higher ratings were based on the newly instituted TPM.

A predictive program that has been exposed in a recent State House committee meeting, as described in Houston Chronicle pieces by Rick Casey, as one that is less about prediction and more about wishful thinking.

Several pieces on the TPM have appeared in the Dallas Morning News within the last 24 hours. Some of them refer to others of them. But together they weave a story that is truly unnerving to those of us who worry about things like school accountability and the public’s perception of whether the Texas Education Agency is stacking the deck in their favor.

This story reveals that the TPM will be used in the state’s campus ratings system again this year, but that Education Commissioner Robert Scott is now mulling over whether it should be eliminated in the future.

This related blog then speculates on what will happen in 2011 when the TPM, applied to the ratings of Texas campuses for 2 straight years, is dumped. Should that happen they speculate, expect campus ratings in Texas to drop precipitously in 2011 (unless, that is, they dredge up something else to prop up sagging ratings).

This article highlights an elementary school campus in the Frisco area that benefited from TPM ratings “bump” and illustrates how, using Pearson Education’s TPM calculator, a 3rd grade student can fail the TAKS math test by answering 4 less than the minimum (55% correct) to pass (26 out of 40 or 65% correct) and fail the reading test by one question (again scoring 55% correct), yet be scored by the TPM as having passed the math test.

And finally, we see this article where a fair-minded person who acknowledges what the TPM is trying to do, document growth, challenges the notion that the TPM is the vehicle to accomplish that. The ideas of a former Dallas school board member are cited as a possible replacement for the TPM: “We should perhaps see how many students a school is moving toward being "proficient" in a subject, which means they are getting closer to mastering it in a way that prepares them for college.”

To this last idea I have to cry foul. This is nothing more than the flavor of the day writ large. Guess what high schools are required to do now according to state law? High schools are required to certify that Student A is certified to be successful in an institute of higher learning. How one is able to figure that out is anyone’s guess. But now we see an extension of this idea, that a state accountability ratings system isn’t just to measure whether a student can pass minimum standards, something you can measure by having a test which has a passing minimum standard, but now maybe the system is to measure learning in a way that is “getting closer to mastering it in a way that prepares them for college.”

And I have to ask this as well. Isn’t this a measurement that concentrates on the higher end of the student population rather than the lower end? Isn’t this just another way to inflate the ratings by emphasizing success rather than failure to succeed?

Believe me, I am no fan of campus ratings systems, especially when they are based on standardized multiple-choice tests of questionable value and validity. But at this point aren’t we just trying to game the system all in the name of fairness?

And fairness to whom?

John Culberson (R- Houston) Is Factually Challenged

I know. I’m not supposed to use the L-word. Saying someone is a liar is fighting words in some parts. So in saying that Congressman John Culberson is “factually challenged” I have exercised some restraint in rhetoric, but I leave no doubt – John Culberson intentionally said something he knows not to be true. I’m sorry to report it, but John Culberson was simply lying when he said this, as quoted in the Houston Chronicle:

“There have been 50,000 wells drilled offshore and this is the first blowout. It is a catastrophe. It is a tragedy. But it is like an airplane falling out of the clear blue sky. You don't ground all airplanes.”
That’s simply not true.

First, let’s assume that in using the term “offshore” Culberson was referring to the offshore Gulf of Mexico. First because the numbers are right when you limit it just to the Gulf. Worldwide, there are much more than 50,000 offshore wells that have been drilled.

In the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s Macondo well was not the first ever to suffer a blowout.

The honor of being the first rig to suffer an offshore blowout in the Gulf of Mexico actually goes to the C.P. Baker Drilling Barge. In June of 1964, in drilling on an offshore location in Block 273 of Eugene Island, a tract operated by the Pan American Petroleum Corporation the well blew out. A short summary of the incident, found here, follows:

“The crew were preparing to run the 20" conductor and BOPs when, at around 0300 hours in the morning, the water around the vessel began to bubble, boil and eventually geyser up with some force between the hulls of the C.P Baker. Water entered the the vessel through open doors on the main deck and electric power was soon lost. Members of the on-duty crew attempted notify the off-duty crew of the blowout but an explosion occurred about five minutes after the blowout was first noticed. The explosion and fire was described as encompassing the whole vessel, and covered an area up to 100 feet around the vessel.”

“Most survivors evacuated the vessel by jumping from the port bow, after which the two support vessels pulled away from the burning C.P. Baker and began picking up survivors from the water. As a result of erupting water entering the hulls through open doors, the vessel began to heel aft and, after around 30 minutes, C.P. Baker sank by the stern. Gas continued to erupt and burn for the following 13 hours, with limited gas release continuing for the following month.”
Eight men died, 13 were missing and presumed dead, and 22 were injured.

But according to John Culberson, that never happened.

Then there was the Sedco 135F semi-submersible rig that blew out in 1979. The Ixtoc-1 well. Oh, but that was in the Mexican offshore Gulf of Mexico, so maybe that doesn’t count. Or maybe it does, considering that it was the merger of two Schlumberger subsidiaries, Sedco and Forex in 1999 that produced a company that was renamed “Transocean Sedco Forex,” later shortened to just “Transocean.”

The Ixtoc well blew out in June 1979 with initial flow rates estimated at 30,000 barrels of oil per day. Flow was cut to a mere 10,000 barrels per day until it was finally killed 9 months later after having released 3.3 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, a lot of which ended up washing onto Texas’ shoreline.

The cause of the blowout? BOP failure. Same as the Deepwater Horizon.

Or what about the Ensco 51 jackup rig that was drilling a well on that same block as the C.P. Baker Drilling Barge, Eugene Island Block 273, when on March 1st 2001, the well blew out resulting in a fire that consumed the rig causing the derrick to collapse onto the platform. The Ensco 51 rig was subsequently repaired in 2002 and has been drilling in the Asia-Pacific regions since then.

But according to John Culberson, that blowout never happened, either.

So contrary to History According to Culberson, the Transocean Deepwater Horizon blowout is not the first time this has happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Nor is it the second or third time. It’s the fourth such incident.

And of the four, the worst of the four.

One would think that we would learn from one blowout to another, and that our record of blowouts in terms of their prevention and emergency response policies would improve with time. But clearly, the reverse is true.

Taking me back to John Culberson’s analogy between the Deepwater Horizon blowout and an aircplane disaster. Just because one plane falls out of the sky, Culberson reasons, is not justification enough to ground all aircraft.

No, not all aircraft. No one is proposing that. Not all offshore oil rigs, either. Just the few tens of rigs that are drilling in the same deepwater environment that the Macondo well was spud in.

OK, so according to Culberson’ analogy, one plane fell out of the sky. And to-date, we don’t have all the answers to why that happened. But according to Culberson, we can’t jeopardize the jobs of pilots, flight attendants and ground crews just because one plane falls out of the sky. Even if we don’t know why it happened.

My only question to Culberson then is this: how many need to fall out of the sky before we need to stop and ask why that happens? Obviously, it’s not one.


But more to the point, how many millions of barrels of oil do we allow to flow into the Gulf before we are allowed by economics and concerns about jobs in the oil industry to stop and ask how we can prevent that from ever . . . ever . . . happening again?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Alan Simpson Working for “The Lesser People” on Social Security

Fire Dog Lake has an eight-minute hallway interview with former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Colorado in a You Tube video that they have uploaded there. An interview conducted as he exited a meeting of the recently assembled Debt Commission of which he is co-chairman, having been given that honor by President Barack Obama.

It is the beginning of the clip that renders the most suspension of belief. At the very beginning of the clip, Alan Simpson is caught on camera as characterizing recipients of Social Security benefits as “the lesser people.”

Fire Dog Lake is fair-minded in their attempt to show Simpson making reasoned arguments in the time after which he leveled these insulting remarks at all retired Americans. However my aim is to focus in on Simpson’s obvious disdain for those of us who depend on our earned and deserved social security payments.

His disdain for “the lesser people.”