Saturday, December 31, 2011

Perry: English is the National Language

As the curtain comes down on what is inevitably the last few days of Rick Perry’s bid for the highest elected office in America we get treated to yet one more “Perryism.”

English should be declared the national language of the United States of America.

It came up yesterday at an Iowa town hall as Perry opened up the floor to questions. This is when a local brainiac got up and stated that he thought English should be the official national language.

“That’s a statement. That’s not a question,” responded Perry, and then added “and I can agree with it.”

This has come up for a vote on prior occasions. In 2006 the Senate voted to adopt English as the official language, only to have that part stripped out of the immigration bill. In 1795, it is said that German lost by one vote as the official language, but I think that is mostly urban legend.

There is no official language, and it’s for a good reason. We are a nation of immigrants. 47 million Americans speak another language than English. Adopting English as the official language is the ultimate racist message.

But I guess the point to be made, if there is one to be made, is this: what makes Rick Perry think he speaks English?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Federal Oligarch in a Robe (Judge) Says No to Perry

Yesterday a federal judge rejected Governor Rick Perry’s request for an emergency court order to require the Virginia Board of Elections to place his name on the Virginia primary ballot.

Barring any changes, only Mitch Romney and Ron Paul will appear on that primary ballot, both campaigns being able to produce the 10,000 valid signatures that state law requires.

You know, there are reasons for these “overly burdensome” requirements. It keeps candidates that aren’t really serious about running for president off the ballot. You know, candidates like Perry, Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann and Huntsman.

And no, we’re not done with this. Not yet

The judge left it open for consideration, setting a January 13th date to hear arguments.

The deadline for primary ballot printing in Virginia, however, is January 9th.

So what’s the point? Why schedule a hearing after the ballots have already been printed? You’re going to just love this. If the judge finds that the Perry arguments are sufficiently valid, and declares Virginia’s election law unconstitutional, allowing Perry, and I suppose Newt Gingrich, on the ballot, the judge can order that the state reprint the ballots.

Isn’t that nice? Every county in Virginia gets to reprint enough ballots for every Republican voter. Now in 2008 McCain got 1.7 million votes so it is safe to say that that is a working estimate of the number of voters that will need primary ballots. And having researched it, paper ballots are specialty items to print and run about 30 cents per ballot in printing costs. That adds up to a little over $500,000 to reprint the ballots with Perry’s name on it.

That is, Perry not only is using a federal court to overturn a state law, if he succeeds he is going to cost the state another half a million dollars to get on the ballot.

Virginians should be “Fed Up” with Rick Perry by now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Perry Gets Gotcha’d

Watch this Talking Points Memo video showing Rick Perry being quizzed on how he can be in favor of small government in light of his opposition to the very famous 2003 landmark Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

It is obvious that Perry had forgotten what that case was all about, yet when the case was decided, Perry, as governor of Texas, railed against the decision.

The decision struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy law that barred homosexuals from this sexual act, but not heterosexuals. Perry decried the decision at the time, calling the Texas law, a heavy-handed intrusion of government into the private bedrooms of Texas “appropriate,” and calling the Supreme Court Justices “nine oligarchs in robes” (even the 3 dissenters apparently).

And more recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (no relation) the dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, penned by Antonin Scalia, was used by Judge Vaughn Walker in his 2010 ruling that California’s Proposition 8, outlawing same-sex marriage in that state, was unconstitutional.

And yes, Perry was perfectly right in labeling the question as a “gotcha question” because he sure was.

Gotcha’d, that is.

Perry Faces First-Ever Election Loss

CNN and Time have come out with a fresh new poll of likely caucus-goers in Iowa and likely primary voters in New Hampshire. Conducted between December 21 and 27, it clearly shows that Rick Perry has about as much of a chance of placing in the top three of either races as a gnat’s chance in a hailstorm.

And this in and of itself is historically significant because Rick Perry has no experience in losing an election - he never has before. But this time, on the national stage, Rick Perry is not only poised to lose but lose badly.

In Iowa, the poll shows Rick Perry in a consistent 4th place trailing Romney, Newt, and Ron Paul. In New Hampshire, however, Perry is dead last getting a mere 2% of voter support.

That he is doing so well in Iowa, compared to New Hampshire is not too surprising considering the fact that the Republican political machine in Iowa is led by none other than Jesus Christ Himself.

These people are True Believers, and as such lack facts. Lack analysis. Lack facts.

Take for example the audience reaction to Perry’s claim that “every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source.” This earned him a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

Because these people, these voters, aren’t aware of the fact that buying oil from Canada is exactly the same as buying oil from a foreign source.

Because Canada is a foreign country.

So the only reason Rick Perry is still in 4th place in Iowa is that Iowa voters are collectively dumber than a bag of hammers and don’t really deserve all the media attention that they get every 4 years.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Perry Files Lawsuit to Get on Virginia Primary Ballot

Failing to gather the 10,000 signatures that Virginia state law requires of all presidential candidates, Rick Perry has filed a lawsuit in federal district court to force himself on the Virginia primary ballot.

Now there normally would be nothing wrong with the above statement if the name Rick Perry were not used in it. Insert the name Newt Gingrich, a big government Washington insider conservative and you have a winner. But Rick “Tenther” Perry? Rick Perry is apparently not so “fed up” that he doesn’t see the exquisite irony in his running to the feds to force a state to alter the way it runs its own elections. In his own state he decries the justice department meddling in its Voter ID law and redistricting. But Virginia is, apparently, infected with some resident evil that prevents its electorate from being able to choose him.

Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous and are particularly problematic in a multi-candidate election. We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified to provide greater ballot access to Virginia voters and the candidates seeking to earn their support.”
Onerous. 10,000 signatures.

Heck, Perry could have given each and every one of his security detail a few petitions each and gotten the job done.

Heck, Perry could have called up one of his political cronies and gotten the job done just as they did in 2010 when they helped the Green Party get on the Texas ballot by gathering 92,000 signatures.

But no. Instead Perry ran to the feds for some relief and filed another frivolous lawsuit.

You know, this just underlines something that I have been saying about Rick Perry for months now. Rick Perry is neither conservative nor liberal. Rick Perry simply has no core principles at all except the ones that help Rick Perry.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Arpaio Stumping for Perry

Politics make strange bedfellows and there are no stranger bedfellows in the GOP presidential race than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Arpaio is in Iowa as I write this, along for the ride on Perry’s final bus tour of the state before its Tuesday evening caucuses.

Now one thing that is obvious is that Perry hopes to use Arpaio’s anti-immigrant mojo to cover up the fact that he has gone on record, both in debate and in the press, as being soft on illegal immigration. His support of the DREAM act and his scoffing at the need for a border fence are strikes one and two against Perry in the cold, cold hearts of anti-immigrant Iowans.

But here’s the thing. This is having an opposite effect, at least in the press. The story in the press isn’t about how Arpaio and Perry agree on illegal immigration, it is about how much they disagree.

Arpaio hasn’t weighed in on letting the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants attend college without having to pay put-of-state tuition – a major part of the DREAM Act but my guess is that he would take a dim view of such a thing, especially now, since he has been charged by the feds of using discriminatory tactics in stopping and questioning Hispanics.

But what is clear is that Arpaio and Perry do not see eye-to-eye on a border fence, something Arpaio has made very clear that he wants, but something Rick Perry doesn’t think is necessary.

So while the intent in having Arpaio along for the ride is transparent and clear, the SNAFU in all of this is that the emphasis has become the contrast between Perry and Arpaio’s divergent opinions on illegal immigration.

That is, Perry is making it obvious to anti-immigrant Iowans that he is not their man.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fractured Logic

Shaking my head this afternoon after reading an article in the Austin American-Statesman published last Friday. It must be fun being a Texas Republican because you get to operate under a system of logic that is so fractured it looks like a disassembled jigsaw puzzle.

Attorneys from the Texas Attorney General’s office are making arguments before the DC federal district court on why Texas’ new House, Senate and Congressional district maps are not discriminatory toward its minority populations. They argue that it was not the intent of legislators to discriminate against minorities. It was, however, their intent to discriminate against Democrats.

From the Austin American-Statesman:
”In arguments before the court, state lawyers denied any intentional racial bias. They explained that because Republicans control the Legislature, it was only natural that they drew maps that would benefit Republican candidates. The Texas attorney general's office said the reason Hispanics are not the majority in more districts is because most Hispanics vote Democratic, not because of their ethnicity.”
So that makes it OK.

It’s like the guy who recently stole my credit card explained to me that he really didn’t have anything against me and didn’t want to upset me or bring me any trouble, he just needed to get some free stuff.

So that makes stealing, whether it is a credit card or a vote, OK.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

‘Tis the Season

Christmas tree
Lawn light
Candy Cane
Yule Log
Mince Meat Pie

You’ll shoot your eye out.

Friday, December 23, 2011

DOJ Rejects South Carolina’s Voter ID Law

Now with today’s announcement from the Department of Justice that South Carolina’s recently-passed Voter ID law, a law that requires voters to possess a photo ID, is discriminatory toward minority voters – a violation of the Voting Rights Act – I have to wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.

The other shoe being Texas.

Because if anything, Texas’ voter ID law is even more restrictive than South Carolina’s.

Texas and South Carolina share a common heritage in having Jim Crow laws on the books, laws that were meant to keep minorities off the voter rolls. The Voting Rights Act specifically targets the states that has them, and any changes that they make to their voting procedures must be precleared by the Department of Justice before they can be enforced.

Now here’s the thing. Indiana has a Voter ID law that passed muster in the Supreme Court. Indiana requires its voters to present a valid photo ID in order to vote.

Indiana was on the side of the North in the War of Northern Aggression (as the Civil War is known here in the South). So Indiana isn’t on the list of states whose voting laws need to be reviewed by the DOJ.

Making me wonder when someone here in the South is going to challenge the entire validity of Section 5 of the VRA – the meat of the law really – under the theory that it violates equal protection. That is, what’s OK in Indiana isn’t so OK in Texas, or South Carolina.

Texas Counties Say April 3rd Primary Date is Too Soon

Will there be enough time to put a primary election together next year? Well in this post a few days back I kind of alluded to the fact the tight schedule that the courts have signed on to could be blown if district courts and the Supreme Court drop the ball and fail to come to their various decisions by the end of January. We would be truly cooked.

And now, as it turns out, according to county governments that have filed objections to the April 3rd primary date, that date is too soon. Assuming that district maps are in place by February 1st, there is just not enough time to prepare for the election and this could result in massive confusion as voters try to figure out where they vote.

The court based the April 3 date on having a map in place by Feb. 1. But the counties say that wouldn't leave them enough time. The court would give them only two weeks to prepare voter registration certificates that take six to seven weeks to prepare, the groups said.”

“‘If voter registrars are required to mail inaccurate voter registration certificates in order to meet the deadline set by the Court, there is likely to be much confusion among voters. And voter confusion leads to voter disenfranchisement.’”
And the assumption that maps will be in place by February 1st is the optimistic scenario.

You know, if there are going to be errors made and votes suppressed because of this fiat by the Supreme Court, maybe June 5th is a more reasonable primary date. By that time, Rick Perry is certain to have dropped from the race for the nomination, and if a presumed nominee has not emerged by that time, Texas Republicans can all vote for the obvious choice to run against President Obama: Ron Paul.

An Early Christmas: Congress Passes Extension of Payroll Tax Cut

In a thoroughly stunning reversal, House Republicans, who were taking a public beating for their steadfast refusal to pass a 2-month extension of the Bush payroll tax cuts, caved in to the public pressure and passed the bill by unanimous consent.

This was a mechanism where no one could go on the record opposing the bill. If there was one objection a roll call vote would be in order, and Republicans that oppose the tax cut would have to go on record.

And again, at the heart of the problem in getting this measure passed, we find the TEA Party: perennial opponents of anything that might just help this country pull itself out of a financial crisis. TEA Partiers have become the petulant children in congress who have just received a severe scolding from both sides of the aisle. President Obama summed it up nicely in his speech before a crowd of supporters yesterday:

I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things, we can’t do it? It doesn’t make any sense
Senate Leader Harry Reid was gloating, I think, when he added these words upon hearing the news that the House had passed the bill:
I hope this Congress has had a very good learning experience, especially those who are newer to this body. Everything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight. That isn’t the way things need to be. People wonder why the approval rating of Congress is so low. I don’t wonder. It seems that everything we’ve done this last year has been a knock-down, drag-out fight. There is no reason to do that.
Now the problem is that this issue is not resolved. The problem is that all we have accomplished is a postponement. But that may just be the silver lining in this very dark cloud. Because we are postponing the argument into next year, next year during primary season when everyone is starting to pay attention. If Republicans and TEA Partiers start making the same sorts of noises they were making between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when most people aren’t paying attention, people are going to start to take notice.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ron Paul’s Timeline Doesn’t Add Up

Take a look at this CNN video of CNN’s Gloria Borger’s interview with Ron Paul as she asks them about “incendiary” material that appeared on a newsletter that bore his name.

He not only flat out denies writing the articles but claims that he wasn’t even aware of its existence until 10 years after it was written. But did you catch it? He later says that “…and it’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this.”

So which is it? Ignorant of the very existence of letters written 20 years ago when people were pestering him about them? Not even aware of them until 10 years ago?

How does that add?

Taxpayer Money Supports Rick Perry’s Campaign

You’ve heard all the stories about how Rick Perry brings his own security with him – Texas State Troopers – on his out of state trips while he is campaigning. The costs are associated with plane fares, accommodations and meals while the governor is stumping in Iowa and Maine. This despite the fact that presidential candidates each rate a security detail from the Secret Service.

Word is that these costs have totaled $397,714 for the month of September alone.

But that’s not the full extent of what Texas taxpayers have been asked to fork over so that Rick Perry can continue to embarrass himself, and the state, in his futile attempt to gain the Republican presidential nomination. Today I read that whenever Perry goes out of state, like now, the Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, becomes the acting governor, and gets an additional $410.96 as compensation for being acting governor. At 78 days so far this year, that amounts to a whopping windfall of $32,054 payable to the lieutenant governor.

Who is a millionaire in his own right by the way.

OK so it’s not double-dipping because Dewhurst is required to reimburse to the state his lt. governor’s pay, but the astounding difference in pay - $142,800 to be exact – means that taxpayers get back $19 of the $410.96. So his net is $30,570.

Still, the party that claims to be fiscally responsible seems to be the same party that continues to feed at the public trough while teachers, policemen and firemen are told to do more with less.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year: winter solstice.

Here in the middle of North America, winter solstice will arrive tonight at .

The sun set today, sinking below the horizon the farthest south that it ever does. It then appears not to move for a couple of days. Then on the 3rd day, December 25th in some parts of the world, it starts back north, each day successively sinking below the horizon further and further north.

Bringing back longer days and warmer days.

The Romans had a 3-day festival to celebrate this. They called it the Festival of the Invincible Sun.

EPA Releases New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

It’s about a month late from its original release date deadline, but today the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its new rules for emission of mercury and other toxins, rules that were demanded by the 1990 Clean Air Act, but rules that have been delayed from being issued by Congress for over 20 years.

The Republican-led congress even tried to do this again by passing the TRAIN Act last September. Passing along party lines by a vote of 233-180, the act hadn’t a chance of passing in the Senate, nor would it be signed into law by President Obama.

But now for the first time we have rules governing emissions of mercury and arsenic in the air, especially from coal-fired power plants.

Like the one that sits on Smithers Lake in Fort Bend County.

It, like all of the other coal-fired power plants in the nation, which all combined emit up to 48 tons of mercury every year, will soon come under these federal rules which will be enforced in 2016. That amounts to 855 gallons of elemental mercury dumped into our air every year.

And you can bet that there will be a hue and cry about these “job killing” regulations from mercury-breathing Republicans. But suffice it to say, these rules have been much-anticipated by these power plant companies.

But according to this article, there is existing technology that can reduce emissions by 90%, and the local plant in Fort Bend County is already making plans to modify its coal-fired units.

And the best part? The best part is that we can now point to yet another accomplishment of the Obama Administration. An accomplishment that previous administrations (including Bill Clinton’s) were unable to get done.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

For Senate: Sanchez is Out Sadler is In

Politics in Texas is anything but boring. Not only do we have a primary election coming up that is completely fluid, where you may or may not be living in the district that you are filing for, we also have a fluid Senate race.

Fluid in the sense that you never know who is going to hang around for the finish.

Witness the fact that a couple of days ago former Army General Ric Sanchez announced he was not going to be in the primary, and that spurred former State Rep Paul Sadler to toss his hat into the ring.

Sanchez was a big name, they were telling me. And he had the creds as a conservative Democrat, someone that some people in the Democratic Party think might have a fighting chance against a Republican in Red Texas.

And he’s Hispanic.

But the campaign never caught fire, chiefly, I think, because the Democratic base failed to get really excited about the guy.

And then his house burned down.

So he got out.

Seeing his opportunity, Paul Sadler, again not a guy with statewide name recognition, stepped in. From East Texas, Sadler is known for his time chairing the Public Education Committee. He lost in a runoff bid for the Texas Senate in 2004 and has since been working in the field of alternative energy.

Sadler will face two others in the April 3rd primary, Sean Hubbard and Daniel Boone. Yeah, I know, ol’ Dan’l won’t have a problem with name recognition, being one of the Heroes of the Alamo. I visited both of their campaign websites. Dan’l is a retired Air Force officer who has several businesses in and around Canyon Lake. Sean, who is about 12 years older than he looks, is actually qualified to run for Senate (I think) as the minimum age is 30 years.

So this should be an interesting one to watch, especially because we have a new guy with name recognition much like we had before with the perennial candidate from Universal City, Gene Kelly. You remember Gene Kelly. The candidate that Barbara Ann Radnofsky had to beat in a runoff election in 2006.

Coincidentally, Gene Kelly was also a retired Air Force officer.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heads Need to Roll in Perry Campaign

Rick Perry’s handlers are not watching the store it seems. They let the Texas governor release an email statement on the death of Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il, but instead of getting the name right, the governor commented on the passing of Kim Jung, Jr.

That is Kim Jung II.

That’s right, this guy who is running for the office of king of the world doesn’t know the name of the president of a potential nuclear power.

And no one on his staff caught it either.

It’s OK to make gaffes when you are onstage under the hot lights and there is no one to hold your hand. You can have your oops moments in that situation and no one will be to blame. But when you issue a statement on email, maybe it should be proofed, especially given the history of getting things wrong almost all the time.

No, someone needs to lose his or her job over this.

It’s either that, or we Dems seem to have a mole in the Perry camp.

Ron Paul Leads Poll in Iowa

In a recent survey taken over the weekend Public Policy Polling has found out what a lot of us were beginning to suspect: Iowa caucus goers are bat-guano crazy. Ron Paul, the poll says, is at the top of the polls in Iowa.

“Paul now has the vote of 23 percent of 597 likely Republican caucus voters, according to Public Policy Polling, in a survey taken from Dec. 16-18. Mitt Romney is close behind at 20 percent, while Gingrich as slipped dramatically to 14 percent. Fourth place is a dead heat between Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry at 10 percent. While Jon Huntsman is gaining traction in New Hampshire, in Iowa he's only got 4 percent of the likely voters. Gary Johnson comes in at 2 percent.”
So The Newt is the latest in a long list of front runners to have the trap door opened under his feet and he gets replaced by perennial presidential candidate – on either the Libertarian or Republican Party ballots – Congressman Ron “Dr. No” Paul.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Paul. The average residence time of any given front runner (and there have been 5 now) in Iowa is about 3 weeks, and here it is December 20th, just 2 weeks shy of the Iowa caucuses.

Know what this means?

It means that if this polling trend holds Iowa caucus-goers will have just voted their state into oblivion. The RNC, I hear, is going to take a very dim view of the importance of Iowa’s continued presence in early primary/caucuses if the winner of their caucus is the much-maligned in his own party, Dr. Ron Paul.

Know what this also means?

It means that the Republican Party has officially fractured into two entities: Mainstream and TEA Party.

When McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running-mate he made the Obama victory an easy one. When voters pick Ron Paul as their nominee they will make the 2012 Presidential election a gift to Democrats.

April 3rd Primary No Help for Perry

When the Supreme Court torpedoed Texas’ March primary there was all sorts of speculation on what was going to happen. The first thing to come out of the mouths of Republicans, in the person of a State Attorney General, was that there should be two primaries, one for President in March, and one for everyone else later on.

Impossible chime in nearly every County Clerk in the state. Too expensive, they said.

But there remained this enclave of Republicans who insisted that this is the way to go. The Democratic Party was 100% for a later Presidential Primary, and it was roughly 50-50 in the Republican Party.

But reason ruled the day and the primary date was moved back a month to early April.

But I have been puzzling on this for days and I just couldn’t figure out what was behind this lame-brained idea of two primaries? Why make a serious argument for such a bad – and prohibitively expensive – idea.

And I continued to puzzle about it until I uncovered this tiny article from an unlikely source, The Jerusalem Post all of which is pasted below:
SAN ANTONIO - A panel of three federal judges approved a plan late Friday to delay the Texas primary elections to April 3 from March 6, a move that could be a blow to Republican Governor Rick Perry's presidential hopes.”

“A likely victory in Texas on March 6 could have helped Perry because it's Super Tuesday, when 10 other states are holding primaries or caucuses. Now, Texas' primary will be toward the end of the primary season calendar.”

“The delay came amid a series of legal challenges to the state's legislative and congressional redistricting maps.
Really? That was what was behind Attorney General Greg Abbott/s plan? That moving the Presidential Primary would negatively affect Rick Perry’s chances at getting into the White House?

Has to be. It was such a stupid – and expensive – idea it has to have come from our self-serving governor’s campaign.

How expensive? At $350,000 per county times 254 of them that’s a whopping $90 million.

That would pay the salaries of nearly 2000 Texas public school teachers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Primary Colors

Democrats and Republicans have difficulty agreeing on anything these days so it was with some relief that I read yesterday that the two parties have come to agreement on holding a single primary at a later date, April 3rd. All other dates are moved back as well.

For instance, these are some new deadline for events before and after the April 3rd primary:

  • February 1, 2012 - New residency deadline for candidates seeking election to the Texas House and Texas Senate.
  • February 1, 2012, - New deadline of court-ordered reopened filing period, in which candidates for all offices have the opportunity to amend, withdraw or file a new application for the ballot.
  • February 3, 2012 - New deadline for County Executive Committees to conduct drawing for candidate order on ballot.
  • April 3, 2012 - Date of the 2012 General Primary Election.
  • April 14 or April 21, 2012 - Date of County and Senatorial District Conventions, as determined by the State Chair of each political party.
  • June 5, 2012 - Date of the 2012 General Primary Runoff Election.
That last one gives me a little pause. A June runoff date? It’s true enough that when I lived in California, which had a June primary for years, that late of a date didn’t keep me from voting, but this is a primary runoff, a totally different animal.

In a primary runoff a person can get elected if his extended family all show up at the polls. And in the Republican primary next year we have 4 who will vie for Fort Bend County Sheriff as the current sheriff has announced his retirement. That race is bound to go to runoff.

Democrats won’t have that problem as only one candidate has filed (so far).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Here It Is: The TLC Rogue’s List

While Lowe’s Home Improvement is getting the most heat in the blowback that has resulted when a TLC network spokesperson announced that the company had withdrawn all of its ads in response to urging from a rightwing religious group from Florida that objects to TLC’s “All-American Muslim” reality show, this is not the only company to bend to the wishes of this intolerant group of fanatics.

According to this website, the main reason Lowe’s has been singled out in the press is the nature of it’s email response to the Islamophobic religious group, the FFA (Florida Family Association, not the Future Farmers of America). It included this:

“While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention.  Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that program.”
Now is “All-American Muslim” a show about a bunch of IED building, Sharia Law following, Anti-Christian fanatics? If so, I guess Lowe’s was perfectly justified in concluding that it does not meet their advertising guidelines.

Unfortunately for Lowe’s, that is not the case. In fact, the show’s objective is to present Muslims who live in American as no different as other Americans. This, the FFA believes, cannot stand.  

So Lowe’s gets to bear the brunt of the backlash from those of us who support religious freedom and tolerance, cornerstones of American traditions and values.

But it is my belief that Lowe’s should spread the wealth, so I went to the FFA website to get the list of companies that have pulled their ads (they claim 75 have done so) so I could inform my 6 (or is it now 7?) readers of where to shop in this holiday season – or more to the point, where not to.

But guess what. The FFA has pulled its list because they don’t want to inform the public anymore about who they need to call or email to chastise them for this obvious trip down the road to perdition. Now they can inflate the list even more.

Because it, as a list, no longer exists.

But then some part of it still exists, at the very website that I cited above (and here).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

While DC Court Fiddles, Texas Primaries Burn

Fly, meet ointment.

Today we learned that the federal court in DC that is engaged in the lawsuit to decide whether the Texas redistricting violates the Voting Rights Act will hear closing arguments on the case on February 3rd.

That’s six, count ‘em, six days after the deadline date that county clerks across Texas say they need to have in order to reschedule a single Texas primary election to April 3rd.

And guess what? What if the DC court decides that the boundaries that were redrawn by the state legislature earlier this year were, by design, discriminatory toward Hispanics in Texas? And what if the Supreme Court decides that the district boundaries drawn by the San Antonio federal judges are invalid?

We have, friends and neighbors, one 9 on the Richter Scale clusterf… . Clusterf… .

That is, between these three courts, DC, SCOTUS, and San Antonio, we might just see not just Hispanic voters disenfranchised in 2012, that’s just small potatoes. We get to witness the disenfranchisement of the entire population of the state of Texas.

And that’s what you get when you stay away from the polls in 2010 and allow Republicans to enjoy a super majority in the legislature.

A true clusterf… .

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Stars Align

Well it seems that the stars are aligning for a new, and single, April 3rd Texas Primary Election. If this happens a condition foreseen in my past musings over this truly foul situation will be averted. That being the nomination of the truly crazy to public office.

The federal judge panel in DC who will decide whether to preclear the recently passed voter ID law, essentially whether or not to agree that it does not violate the Voting Rights Act, have set a trial date. The trial will run between January 17th and January 26th 2012.

Meanwhile back in San Antonio, another federal judge panel heard testimony from various elections officials about whether to hold one primary or two. It was just about unanimous among the witnesses that holding two primaries would be unjustifiably costly to the counties and to the state.

Costly at a time when budgets are being slashed.

The Travis County Clerk testified to this effect and offered a solution: move the primary date back. County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir suggested an April 3rd primary date, a date that depends on everything being settled by January 28th.  And now from the look of it from the DC end, it will be settled by then.

Unless the Supreme Court kicks some dust into the air and re-sabotages the whole process.

Now here is one thing I am hoping. I am hoping that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor does not recuse herself in this hearing on the redrawn district maps scheduled for early January. She did that recently, I think to provide an example for Justice Clarence Thomas about when and where it is appropriate to recuse himself from the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Healthcare Act, an act his wife openly opposes.

I am hoping that Justice Sotomayor looks beyond the fact that she is Latina, and the Voter ID law passed by the Texas legislature is openly anti Hispanic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

There’s a New STAAR on the Horizon

Yes, two “As” because we’re not talking about a celestial body, nor are we talking about a celebrity. We are talking about the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, the state’s new assessment of knowledge instrument that will replace TAKS over the next 4 years.

STAAR will be administered this spring to 9th graders for the first time, and passing it just might make or break their walk across the stage 3 years hence.

In short, if before we had 4 TAKS tests that a student needed to pass, now we have 12 STAAR tests that they must pass. Yes, high-stakes testing has just gone to a new level.

Trouble is, according to this article, the state has not yet decided what the passing standard will be. And unfortunately once that standard is decided upon one wonders whether they will stick to that standard throughout a student’s secondary education, or whether it will be adjusted year by year as TAKS standards were.

But most alarming to some is that the STAAR test is more rigorous than TAKS. I think the biggest criticism I have of state mandated tests is that the tests are not necessarily written in the language that the content was taught. Textbooks that are adopted in each district differ from one to another. So the language and the context that the content is taught differs from district to district. In addition, many students attempt to pass courses by rote memorization, but when presented with a STAAR test, all of a sudden they are expected to think at the highest order, something that only the 1st quartile are capable of doing.

But perhaps the biggest concern I have with implementing a new high-stakes testing regimen just now is also the concern of Gayle Fallon, the American Federation of Teachers president in Houston:
The biggest problem we've got is it's a significant jump in difficulty in a year to be followed by another year where we're seeing the largest class sizes we've ever seen. We're seeing resources disappear on a daily basis. I'm not saying our teachers can't do it, but it's kind of like saying run this race and we're going to tie both your hands behind your back. Now good luck.
The sad fact is, the state is requiring students to pass a new high-stakes test at a time when the state failed to deliver the resources to public schools as demanded by the state’s own constitution.