Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free Birth Control Pills

I was waiting for this. Rightwing Evangelicals will soon be on the march and raise a hue and cry to repeal “Obamacare” because it kills children.

Or, as they say, potential children.

This is because, as I see in today’s Houston Chronicle, there is an interpretation of the Mikulski Women’s Health Overhaul amendment that would “require insurers to cover preventive care and screenings for women at little or not cost to them” is actually wording that guarantees free birth control pills to all comers.

Evangelicals are coming unglued as we see in the article:
“‘We don't consider it to be health care, but a lifestyle choice,’ said John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, a Philadelphia think tank whose work reflects church teachings. ‘We think there are other ways to avoid having children than by ingesting chemicals paid for by health insurance.’”

Now whether “preventive care” made free goes beyond free mammograms to include prevention of conception, generally not considered a disease, is neither here nor there. [But wouldn’t it be great if indeed birth control was not something someone has to opt out of because of the added expense?] The article goes on and strays back into the world of reason, pointing out that birth control pills is very mainstream these days.
“The use of birth control is ‘virtually universal’ in the U.S., according to a government report this summer from the National Center for Health Statistics. Nearly 93 million prescriptions for contraceptives were dispensed in 2009, according to IMS Health, a market analysis firm. Generic versions of the pill are available at Walmart stores, for example, for $9 a month.”

“Still, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and many occur among women using some form of contraception. The government says the problem is rarely the birth control method, but "inconsistent or incorrect use," such as forgetting to take a pill.”

“Advocates say free birth control would begin to address the problem.”

“‘We can look at other countries where birth control is available for no cost, and what we see are lower pregnancy rates, lower abortion rates and lower teen pregnancy,’ said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.”

Yes. Wouldn’t it be nice if America was more like other countries where there are lower teen pregnancies and lower abortion rates?

Texas Elections Director: Electioneering For Greg Abbott Isn’t Electioneering

In a stunning abandonment of all logic and reason, the Texas Director of Elections, Ann McGeehan, has determined that wearing in a polling location a button or a T-shirt bearing the words “Don’t tread on me” along with a coiled snake doesn’t constitute electioneering.

Writes the director in what can be described as the most poorly worded policy decision that I have ever read:

“It is the opinion of this office that people simply wearing a t-shirt or button with the wording “Don’t Tread on Me” displaying the coiled rattlesnake and nothing else are not electioneering for (nor does such action relate to) a candidate, measure or party and such action does not relate to the conduct of the election.”
Stunning in that this symbol has become the unofficial seal of the TEA party movement.

Illogical in that this symbol is the adopted symbol of a real Texas Republican politician engaged in a real campaign against a real Democrat. In other words, if wearing the symbol that represents the campaign of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is not electioneering, then anything goes from here on in.

Unreasonable in that Greg Abbott actually uses the Gadsden Flag on his campaign material. He even has a “Don’t Tread On Me” campaign on his website. You can see it here and read about the fact that “If you contribute just $10 to General Abbott's campaign, you can get your own "Don't Tread on Me" embroidered hat or t-shirt!”

He even poses for a photograph with his campaign symbol.

It now appears to me that merely bringing the federal Department of Justice here and federalizing the entire election process in the state of Texas would not be enough to stop the gross crimes and misdemeanors of ultraconservatives and other assorted fanatics. Texas is simply too far gone for any of that.

No, there is only one thing we can do in order to bring Texas forward into the 21st century, completely skipping the 20th.

Bring back Reconstruction.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Early Vote Ends with Record Totals

The two-week long early vote period for this year’s mid-term election has finally drawn to a close. And the vote totals at the Fort Bend County Elections website reveals that people are taking advantage of early voting like no other mid-term election ever seen.

Because at the end of the day yesterday, I see that a total of 78,855 voters personally appeared at the 17 early voting locations throughout the county, and that 6,732 mail-in ballots were received by the end of the day. That’s a total early vote turnout of 85,537.

During a “low-interest” mid-term election where no presidential race is on the ballot, this is simply amazing to me.

With a total registered voter population of 309,026, this means that nearly 28% of all registered voters have early voted. This is the second highest voter turnout rate of any of the 15 counties that the Texas Secretary of State keeps tabs on at their website, with Galveston County barely edging Fort Bend County.

The last time we had a mid-term election, in 2006, it was a very different story. In 2006 a total of 39,289 voters had participated in the early voting, a mere 14.67% of all registered voters. And by the end of voting on Election Day of that year, a total of 98,427 votes had been cast in the gubernatorial contest.

So in this year’s early vote we are only 12,890 votes shy of the total Fort Bend voter turnout in 2006.

And Fort Bend is just the tip of the iceberg. In neighboring Harris County which encompasses most of the City of Houston, they are seeing their numbers go through the roof. Richard Murray a demographer at the University of Houston who has also predicted the imminent “Bluing of Fort Bend” thinks he sees who is showing up to vote: white people.

And when more white people turn out to vote, he says, that can’t be good for Democrats.

“Younger voters for Obama, African-American voters, they're always difficult to turn out in a midterm election. It's one of the reasons the Democrats are in trouble.”
But then, on the other hand, Murray has also said that the early vote favors Democrats because Democrats are traditionally lethargic and tend not to vote if not given plenty of opportunity as in this 2-week long early voting period.

So which is it? Will a heavy early vote favor Democratic candidates in Fort Bend? Murray has said it is so. On the other hand, according to Murray, without an African-American at the top of the ballot, African-Americans are staying home this year. But I like it how State Rep Garnet Coleman says it in his evaluation of black voter turnout this year:

“Those were people who never voted in gubernatorial elections anway. So why would anyone expect they would vote now?”
Why indeed?

What I’ll “Be” This Halloween

What are you going to "be" on Halloween?

That was what we used to ask each other back in the day. Back when I went out Trick-or-Treating with my friends.

And so I asked a friend yesterday what her young son was going to “be” this Halloween and she replied “he wants to be a scary man.”

A scary man.

That leaves it pretty much open, then, how exactly you pull off the “scary man” look. But I thought about it some and concluded that that very probably entailed every costume I ever devised during my tenure as a Trick-or-Treater.

Except for the time I was a space man, that is.

So this year, I think I’ll follow my friend’s son’s lead and go out as the scariest man I can think of, and hopefully I’ll frighten the bejesus out of everyone who sees me and swear that they will never want to look or act like me in their lifetimes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

McDonald’s Employees Get Political Advice with Their Paychecks

This midterm election is the craziest one I’ve seen in years, or really, maybe ever. All you hear is about the shenanigans being pulled by Republicans as they seek to bring about the rout that they are promising.

Seeking it by any means possible.

Like how Teabaggers have been seen posing as poll watchers but do all they can to harass voters before, during and after casting their early vote.

Like how Republicans are leafleting cars parked at or near polling locations in minority neighborhoods advising them not to vote a straight Democratic ticket because the voting machines have been rigged to vote a Republican straight ticket.

And this is just what we hear about in the news. Imagine what the truly stealthy tricksters are managing to pull off. Democracy as we knew it is truly going to H E Double Hockey sticks in a handbasket.

And this is just what we are hearing in Texas.

Now, come to find out, if you are a McDonalds employee in Ohio, you may get a little something extra in your paycheck envelope this week. If you work in one of Paul Seigfried’s franchises that is.

And we’re not talking about a little something extra on the check itself, we’re talking about a letter to his employees, with a McDonalds logo on it, asking them to vote for Republicans in the upcoming election.

He also enclosed a campaign flyer for Jim Renacci who is running for congress in Ohio’s 16th congressional district.

The language wasn’t even pleasant. As a matter of fact, it was just a little threatening. Take a look:

“If the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected we will not. The following candidates are the ones we believe will help our business move forward . . .”
And he listed John Kasich for Governor, Rob Portman for Senate and Jim Renacci for Congress.

This isn’t just harrassment, it’s downright illegal, immoral, and reflects bad manners. And I really don’t think Jesus would approve, either.

So yes, the Ohio Secretary of State is investigating, but so far there is no mention of an arrest. Just an apology from Seigfried, citing his “bad judgment.”

No, that wasn’t “bad judgment” that was a crime. It’s also bad judgment to rob a liquor store and blow away the clerk, but it’s also a crime.

An example must be made. Seigfried needs to be disciplined. If not by the State of Ohio, then the Department of Justice.

Or if not them, then McDonalds Corp. needs to strip Seigfried of his franchises.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sarah Palin: As Serious as a Heart Attack

I can’t think of another Teabagging Republican that I’d like to have running against Barack Obama in 2012 than Sarah Palin, and today she just made my day.

Sarah Palin is going to run for President in 2012.

But the way she backhandedly made her announcement has me absolutely flummoxed. Sarah Palin says that she will run for President “if there’s nobody else to do it.”

That is, I guess, if Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or heck, Christine O’Donnell don’t toss their hats into the ring, then, aw shucks, Sarah will do it.

Continuing, Palin was quoted saying this:
“…it's going to entail a discussion with my family [and] a real close look at the lay of the land, to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job.”
This is the ultimate candidate. What she is saying is that if no one is out there that can out-common-sense her, no one can out-conservative her, no one can out-pro-constitution-passion her, then she’ll run.

By Sarah Palin’s own admission, she is the best-qualified candidate if she indeed decides to run.

With logic like that, who needs intelligence and political savvy?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Tom DeLay Show Debuts Monday

Tom DeLay’s money laundering trial got a start this week as the prosecution and defense grilled dozens of potential jurors, finally settling on six men and women, none of them African-American because DeLay’s counsel Dick DeGuerin had three black jurors struck because they frowned at him.

And largely due to the prosecution’s objections, one juror was replaced by a black woman who had laughed and joked with DeGuerin earlier.

This marks the beginning of what I predict will be a circus. Tom DeLay, is at his absolute best (i.e. worst) when he works to degrade and disrespect the judicial process. He belittles the system of justice that has brought him to trial for breaking a 100-year old law just as he cheapened the legislative process while he was a majority leader in Congress.

The last time he found himself in court, in Judge Sam Sparks’ federal district court, his smugness and flippant responses, elicited Sparks’ “run like a rabbit” remark. Again DeLay belittled the judicial process which served to prove the plaintiff’s (the Texas Democratic Party) case, and as a result the Republican Party of Texas had no one on the ballot to run for his old seat.

Which is one of many of Tom DeLay’s personal faults: he fails to learn from his past mistakes.

Like the time he spent on “Dancing With the Stars.” It seems that many of the prospective jurors saw him on DWTS and were not impressed with what they saw. Said one woman, “he is a bad dancer.” DeLay himself can’t avoid using the word dancing to describe himself. Said he last August 17th when the Justice Dept. dropped their criminal investigation of him with regard to his receipt of expensive gifts from lobbyists, of the political climate in DC:
“They have to completely drown you and put you in prison and destroy your family and your reputation and your finances, and then dance on your grave.”
Which is ironic.

The irony is that Tom DeLay just may be the only politician in history to dance on his own grave.

So the 3-Ring Circus that will become The Tom DeLay Show begins on Monday and is expected to go for 3 weeks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Fort Bend County Judge Write-In Candidate Hates Property Taxes

I keep driving by that bare-bones campaign sign posted on the public right of way along Highway 90A for Fort Bend County Judge write-in candidate Chris Meeks. This is the “Constitutional Republican” who might as well just call herself a Libertarian, having contributed to Ron Paul’s campaign, and lobbied against fluoridated water.

She has her main campaign platform posted right on the sign and it basically says that she wants to do away with property taxes in Fort Bend County.

Property taxes that pay for, you know, stuff like education in our public school system.

And despite the fact that I was pretty candid in my opinions about her and her political views, the candidate actually responded to my posting with a comment.

[Something that some of you may have realized you can’t do anymore.]

Here is an excerpt from the comment:

“Renting to the government via property taxation is slavery. Slaves are not allowed to own property. Vote for freedom and liberty. Write In Chris Meeks for Ft.Bend County Judge.”

I don’t know about you but I’m having trouble trying to relate the first two sentences to each other, or to anything else for that matter.

But what inspired me to write anew about this candidate was a conversation that I had with a local politically savvy person who is also interested in property taxes. I mentioned to her what I had read in Juanita’s blog today about how Bob Hebert is giving away nail files and she went off on Chris Meeks. She said that she had looked her up on the property tax rolls and determined that Meeks didn’t even own any property in Fort Bend County. “Why does she care about property taxes,” she asked. “She doesn’t pay any.”

I filled her in on the fact that since she is running as a write-in candidate, she is running under her maiden name, Meeks, rather than her married name, Christine Zubizarreta.

It wasn’t a half of an hour later that she reported that she located her on the property tax records. “Wow,” was all she said.

So I got curious and went to the Fort Bend County Central Appraisal District website and repeated the query.


Chris Meeks, with her husband own a piece of property in Fort Bend County whose assessed value is over $550,000. Depending on where that is, and in what school district, that could amount to a property tax bill of over $20,000 a year.

No wonder Meeks is against property taxes.

I would be against property taxes too if I had to lay out that chunk of change to the county every year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Early Vote Prognostications II: The Murray Effect

I like it that Professor Richard Murray, a demographer at the University of Houston, is paying close attention to the early vote turnout numbers with the rest of us, because frankly I don’t have the background to conclude from the numbers more than the notion that it looks like interest is up in the mid-term election this year.

Interest is high as I mentioned in this posting with 6.61% of registered voters having already turned out in the first four days of early voting this year, as opposed to 3.58% over the equivalent period in 2006. Murray, in this article, points out that the trend is even higher in Harris County, where 104,420 votes were registered by the end of the day last Thursday. That, friends and neighbors, is nearly three times the turnout in 2006 where only 35,070 at the end of the fourth day that year.

But hold on, Murray says, part of that could be the effect of so many being made aware of the fact that each and every voting machine in Harris County was burned up by somebody, and Harris County has had to make do with fewer machines. Hence the huge effort to get people to the polls early and avoid the lines that will be inevitable.

But look at what is happening in neighboring Fort Bend County, which has all of its voting machines unburnt.

In 2006, Fort Bend County had 6,647 early votes in the race where Republicans saw the Democrats “steal” Tom DeLay’s congressional seat by having as the only credible opponent (if you can call her that) a write-in candidate. And we had 4 candidates for governor. Compare that to this year’s numbers at the end of four days of early voting where 20,361 votes have been cast.

That’s triple the votes registered over what were cast at the equivalent period in 2006.

In short, I really don’t think it was Harris County Clerk Beverly Kauffman’s vote early campaign that has much effect.

But this is where it gets really good. Dr. Murray thinks that a heavy early vote turnout is a positive for Democrats.

“There is no conclusive evidence on the second question of party advantage, but my guess is that early voting slightly benefits Democrats. The Democratic Party has more problems turning out their voters compared to the Republican Party, so having a longer window to get-out-the-vote (GOTV) gives them an extra opportunity to get their base to the polls. ”
Isn’t that delightful? This is something I like to call the "Murray Effect." Because we Democrats are more lethargic and less likely to vote, having an extended early voting period brings more of us to the polls. Is that the reason, dare I ask, why in Fort Bend County Democratic straight ticket votes have outstripped Republican straight ticket votes for the past 2 election cycles?

Think on it. The motivated voter is the partisan voter. Having more days than just the one day on Election Day allows Democrats more days to express our partisanship. OK, the theory has a hole or two, but it is what it is.

In the same article, Murray goes on:

“What early voting does show is that the most intense voters cast their ballots early. In the 2008 election that was the African American voters who cast early ballots in support of the first [African-]American nominated for president by a major party.”
So if that is true, are Republicans the motivated ones this year? And does the Democratic early vote advantage serve to negate the fabled “Republican surge?”

In a previous posting I concluded that who wins and who loses will all depend on who gets out their base, and guess what? Nothing has changed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Squeezing Blood from Turnips: White Stumps for Votes in East Texas

Yesterday in looking at the early vote trends and seeing that there is definitely elevated interest in this mid-term election, much higher than in 2006, I came to the conclusion that, in the end, getting your base out to vote is going to be the key to winning an election this year.

And now, in an irony of ironies. I read this morning that the Bill White campaign is stumping for votes in East Texas.

From the Austin American-Statesman:
“Republicans have carried the region in the race for governor since Democrat Ann Richards narrowly lost it to George W. Bush in 1994. This year, the GOP is blanketing the airwaves with ads tying local Democrats to an unpopular President Barack Obama.

“But White thinks he can again turn this swath of Texas — more culturally like the Old South than other parts of the state — into a political battleground.”

“‘A lot of Texas Democrats are coming back home in my campaign,’ White told The Associated Press. ‘We're going to be stronger than other statewide candidates in a long time.’”

Now it is one thing to be out there getting your base to the polling booth, and another thing to be out there hammering at persuadables and independent voters. One is a sure thing, the other is a little more iffy in getting positive results.

But it is a completely different thing to be out there in the middle of the last of the Old South trying to turn a region of Texas away from their approval of all things Rick Perry. A region of Texas that went for McCain/Palin in a huge, huge way just 2 years ago. Nacogdoches County, where Bill White and singer Robert Earl Keen visited this weekend voted 63.4% for McCain/Palin in 2008, exceeding the Texas statewide average by 8 points.

Well at least they spelled "African " correctly
This is a region of Texas that has actually gotten redder if that is at all possible. It is a region that has been home to redneck racists for years now. Signs like this appear in front of homes in this area of Texas. In short, Bill White is out there in East Texas trying to squeeze the blood out of a turnip. Ten days out from the General Election, and this is where the White Campaign has decided to concentrate its efforts.

I don’t know who is making this decision for Bill White, but I hope he or she continues their practice in political consulting by working for Republicans next time, because they are doing a smash-up job working for them this year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

By the Numbers - The First Four Days of the Early Vote

So all over the news these days is how Republicans are over-eager to get to the polls in this election cycle, and Democrats are lethargic. There is, they say, an “enthusiasm gap.”

Others are now saying that in view of the really nutty things coming out of the mouths of Teabagger candidates, Democrats are being shaken awake and are now paying attention to this election.

Democrats are, they say, becoming increasingly alarmed over what could possibly happen should they sit this one out.

Who is right? I really don’t know, but let’s look at the Texas Secretary of State’s early vote data for the 15 most populous counties in Texas and see if we can get some clues.

After the first 4 days of Early Voting, we see that 458,063 individuals have come to the polls to vote and that 92,876 have voted by mail. That makes a grand cumulative total of 550,939 early and absentee votes thus far. That’s 6.61% of registered voters in these 15 counties.

In 2008, where Texas voters came to the polls in droves, the first 4 days of early voting yielded 974,445 voters who came to the polls, and 138,001 absentee ballots received, for a grand cumulative total of 1,112,446 votes – or 13.15% of all registered voters in the 15 counties.

So roughly half of the voters who showed up in 2008 to vote in a presidential year showed up this year – pretty much what can be expected. Voting for governor, after all is not as sexy as voting for president.

So let’s compare apples to apples now. Let’s compare this year’s numbers with the last mid-term election in 2006.

After the first 4 days of early voting in 2006, a total of 246,500 voters had voted, and 40,672 absentee votes had been received. That’s a grand total to that point of 287,172 votes, or 3.53% of all registered voters.

So while one could say that this year’s vote turnout will be about half of what it was in 2008, if things continue along this trend, one can also say that voter turnout is roughly double what is was in 2006.

Now the question is, how are we to interpret this? Clearly there is greater voter interest in this mid-term election than in the last one when we had 4 people running for governor, and not one of them got a majority vote. Common wisdom would dictate that in a Red State higher voter participation favors a Republican over a Democrat. Based on these trends, we can expect roughly 4 million voters to vote statewide as opposed to 8 million in 2008. But compare that to the numbers that showed up in 2006: 4,399,116.

Clearly, that’s not half of the projected total based on current trends. Conclusion? One of two things is happening. It’s either that somewhere between 4 and 6 million voters will vote in this election, or that voter interest is higher in that more have shown up early in the early vote than in the past, but we’ll still see about 4 million votes this year.

My guess is that probably a combination of both things are happening.

Conclusion? It’s all going to come down to who gets the most of their base out to vote. Independents will muddle through, as usual, and vote in their usual manner of somehow knowing what is in their choice’s heart of hearts.

It will be all about getting out the base in this election.

“…And Stay Out of My Retirement Fund”

In speaking to a group of enthusiastic supporters recently, Bill White’s comment elicited an outburst from one among the crowd when he asked them whether they agreed with him that public resources shouldn’t be used by a political machine to elect the same person, year after year.

Here is a video clip of that moment:

I’ve mentioned it before, here, that Rick Perry uses the retirement fund for Texas’ public school teachers to reward his friends and cronies, but most of all to reward his campaign fund donors.

If you think that’s a really good idea, then you can do one of two things: vote for Rick Perry for another 4 years of this, or don’t vote at all. And if you really don’t care about how Rick Perry uses the retirement fund of teachers to benefit himself and his friends, if you don’t care at all, just don’t vote.

But if you think these acts should be made illegal, Bill White is your guy.

[Oh, and as an aside, I just noticed that this is my 2000th posting on this blog. Geez, I need a life.]

Friday, October 22, 2010

Voting with eSlate and Justice in Texas

Do you remember back in 2007 when the Texas Democratic Party sued the Texas Secretary of State over the Hart Intercivic eSlate voting machines? About how these voting machines are programmed to possibly mishandle straight ticket votes?

Straight ticket voters, you see, are a little overzealous. They use the straight ticket choice, but then when presented with the ballot with all candidates shown, and the party line vote registered by showing the boxes next to the names filled in with red pixels, some straight ticket voters emphasize their vote by voting for their choice again.

Canceling out their vote by unwittingly deselecting their candidate of choice.

Well the TDP filed suit because of this and other things, and on August 17th of that year the lawsuit was dismissed by Republican federal district judge Sam Sparks.

Ah. Sam Sparks evidently saw nothing in the argument that a Texas voter was being disenfranchised by this particular voting machine if they used it in a way that the voting machine programmer did not anticipate.

In other words, Sparks told the TDP and Texas voters to take their suit and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

But imagine my surprise when I went and early voted this past Monday at my favorite Early Voting polling place, and I used the straight ticket option. I then went on to emphasize my dislike of all things Kesha Rogers by moving the cursor over her already selected box and hit the enter button to deselect that vote. Immediately a blue screen popped up with a message, and a warning that I was about to change my straight ticket vote and had deselected that particular candidate.

And did I want to go back or continue.

Sam Sparks didn’t see this particular problem as a problem, but that didn’t alter the fact that Hart Intercivic went ahead and made a change in their programming to correct this glaring infringement of voting rights.

I guess that’s how justice works here in Texas.

It doesn’t, so we all have to become codependents and alter the way we do the business of voting.

And I guess now any voter who can prove that they had their vote cancelled before now because of the problem that Sam Sparks didn’t think was a problem has standing in a new lawsuit.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rick Perry Uses and Abuses Educators and Education

On Tuesday a memo penned by Michael Green, the Director of the Teacher Retirement System’s Investment Division, laid bare the way Rick Perry has used the retirement fund of Texas teachers for his own benefit. You can read it here.

It is damming in the detail it goes into, revealing how Rick Perry’s cronies and campaign contributors have directly benefited from gaining investment fees and kickbacks when the TRS invested in risky ventures.

Green writes:

“Over the last two years I’ve had the privilege to be a part of the team whose goal is to build a modern investment management organization within TRS. Over that time, however, my excitement has given way to increasing concern as relativistic ethics have taken root within parts of the senior management team as they’ve worked to gain the support and resources necessary to realize that goal. Rationalizing violations of TRS directives, policies and procedures, devaluing personal and professional ethics and the violation of state laws have become increasingly familiar.”
Senior management?

Senior management like Jim Lee, a Perry appointee who was also a chief Perry fundraiser. Jim Lee was in charge of investing billions of TRS dollars but had to step down when it was revealed that he had run up huge gambling debts in Las Vegas.

Senior management like R. David Kelly, also a current member of Perry’s campaign fundraising team.

Green writes that he was coerced into changing his decisions to decline investing in risky ventures. Ventures that ultimately trace back to Perry’s cronies.

The smoking gun is in full view. Not only is Rick Perry the guy who promotes a political agenda on the State Board of Education – degrading education standards in Texas, he is also the guy who used federal Education stimulus dollars to balance his budget. He is the guy that has presided over the highest rise in post-secondary tuition fees in Texas history.

He is now exposed as the guy who uses the hard-earned retirement money of Texas educators to benefit his campaign, his donors, and the business interests of his cronies.

Rick Perry is lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.

Why a Texas teacher would cast a vote for Rick Perry is beyond me. Why anyone who has a child attending a Texas public school would vote for Rick Perry is similarly a mystery to me.

Teachers are astounded at this news. Here are several retired teachers who should rightfully be more outraged than they appear to be in the video. Sometimes teachers are too nice for their own good.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

King Street Patriots: The Brown Shirts Are Back

There is a Teabagger group based in The Woodlands that calls itself the King Street Patriots. The King Street Patriots have taken a page out of the New Black Panthers’ playbook and have assumed the role of voter intimidators that has not seen the light of day since pre-WWII Germany when Hitler’s Brown Shirts harassed voters at the polls and practically guaranteed a win for the future Fuhrer.

By the way, Godwin’s Law is not in force here. The Brown Shirts considered themselves patriots, too.

Voter intimidation in predominantly minority areas of Houston, as reported in the Houston Chronicle, brings home the fact that uber-conservative Teabaggers are going all out in this election cycle to ensure that what the conservative media outlets are touting, a GOP romp, will self-manifest.

“Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg said his office had received reports Monday that poll watchers were "hovering" over voters, "getting in their face," and talking to election workers.”

“‘This is the fourth general election I've been involved with,’ Birnberg said, ‘and we have never had this kind of problem in the past.’”
The “poll watchers” are allegedly trained by the King Street Patriots.

“Birnberg placed the blame on some 300 poll watchers trained by a group of tea party activists who call themselves the King Street Patriots.”

“Poll watchers must be affiliated with either a party or a candidate, although the King Street Patriots group, through a project called True the Vote, is recruiting poll watchers on its website for Election Day, Nov. 2.”
Hiram Sasser, who is an attorney that represents the King Street Patriots, defends the group as new and inexperienced, as if to say so maybe mistakes were made, heck we’re all human and humans make mistakes.

No, actually, this is what he really said:

“Obviously, they trained them properly to follow the rules. What's different this time is that there probably are more poll watchers now than there have ever been before. … So, it might be a new process for some folks.”
And I might believe that if it weren’t for the fact that the Texas Tribune, some time ago, posted a YouTube Video of a King Street meeting where they informed the group of the tactics of the New Black Panther Party, as well as not so subliminal warning that the group had been established in Houston. The gasps of horror are audible on the video’s soundtrack.


The King Street Patriots know exactly what they are doing, and the video is the proof in the pudding.

All they lack are the brown shirts, the swastikas and a leader with a really tacky moustache.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corralling Those Mexican Communists

I have a very modest beer stein collection. Just a few. One is solid brass and is made of an old German WWI artillery shell casing. It has 1915 stamped on the base. Others are souvenir steins that I picked up on my only trip to the Old Country.

But a fourth is perhaps the one I cherish the most.

Here it is in all its glory.

See the piece of concrete mounted on the cap? That’s a piece of the Berlin Wall.

A wall that was constructed by the former German Democratic Republic in 1961. A wall whose purpose was to keep those living in the former Soviet Sector of Occupied Germany, later to be known as the DDR or the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, from crossing into West Berlin.

From escaping the enslavement of the Soviet, and therefore the East German style of despotic communism to the freedom and democracy of the West.

A wall that fell suddenly and unexpectedly on November 9th, 1989 as the Cold War thawed and the Soviet Union fell into disarray and irrelevance.

This wall symbolized the ultimate in despotism. The blood of hundreds if not thousands of fleeing Germans was spilt there.

It was, in short, a nightmare that is thankfully now just an asterisk in historical texts.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Teabagger Alaska Senator Wannabe Joe Miller dredged it all back up when he cited this despised edifice as something to be admired. Something that we should be doing at our borders.

“East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could, we could.”
Joe Miller is one sick, sick puppy.

And not just a little ignorant of the facts.

Point of fact, the reason that the DDR built that wall was not to keep West Berliners from crossing into East Berlin and taking all those jobs, but to keep East Berliners from leaving.

Just about the only thing that Miller is correct about is the fact that the Berlin Wall was very effective in curbing the flow of fleeing citizens.

And the reason it was so effective didn’t have to do with the wall, the wire or the pit traps, it had to do with the watch towers constructed at intervals.

Watch towers equipped with machine guns.

But this apparently is what Joe Miller - and who knows who else - has in mind for the future Utopia that they envision for my country.

If that’s the case, then here is what I have to say to all the Teabaggers who “want their country back:”

Only if you take it from my cold dead hands.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bill White: A Candidate for Any Audience

I had the opportunity, yesterday, to see Bill White deliver his “stump speech” in two cities and in front of two very different audiences. I was amazed at the versatility of Mayor White.

I was amazed at his adaptability.

A “stump speech,” by definition is one where you speak the same lines in one city after another, in front of one audience after another. It’s kind of like delivering the same lesson to six different classes all day.

Kind of.

As an educator, I am aware that my teaching style, and what I say, varies throughout the day. And how I make my delivery very much depends on how my classes respond.

The content is the same, but the delivery is different.

Bill White, Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas, does that, too.

Witness his two speeches that I witnessed yesterday. The first speech was delivered in Fort Bend County in the hot sun outdoors in front of a middle class audience about 200 in number. It was an ethnically diverse middle class audience.

The other, delivered 2 hours later in Galveston, indoors in a cool hotel ballroom before about 800 Democrats, again a diverse middle class audience, carried a similar message, but you could see how the Galveston audience provided a different, shall we say, chemistry.

Bill White would make a fairly decent teacher, but more to the point, he will make an excellent Governor of Texas.