Monday, December 31, 2012

Lucky 13

Happy 2013.
Not only do we get to fall off of a cliff this next week, but next week the Texas state legislature gets gaveled back into session.
Hold onto your butts. Here comes the end of public education as we know it.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Free Fall Anyone?

As we are poised to jump off a cliff this weekend, President Obama went on Meet the Press and in a one-on-one interview had this to say, something that I hope rings true to those who echoed the TEA Party values in the months to come:
“They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they're behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme.”

This is and has been the TEA Party agenda – address the economy by dealing with the deficit, and not raise their taxes because, by God, they are Taxed Enough Already.
[This, by the way is a clever way of saying that government should not take in revenue to promote the common good, because they want their money for themselves and not their children or grandchildren.]
So it should come to no one’s surprise that all this talk about fixing the deficit is nothing more than talk, and what they really want is to keep their money, but more importantly, allow the ones who are bankrolling the TEA Party movement, the Koch Brothers et al. to keep their money in their foreign bank accounts.
So we are going to fall over a cliff and it’s all based on politics and not about reason or the correct thing to do. It is institutional lunacy in other words.
On Earth, free fall acceleration is around 9.8 meters per second squared, or if you are still a prisoner of the “conventional system of units,” thirty-two feet per second per second.
Either way you measure it, people are going to lose millions upon millions of dollars in a couple of days. Thank you Grand Opportunistic Party.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Reason to Hate Gays: The Antichrist (is One)

If anything is true beyond all doubt it’s that a person can read the signs of the coming of the Antichrist in ANYthing. I think this ultimate truth is evident in this YouTube video by self-described “Third Eagle of the Apocalypse” William Tapley – a nutcase extra-ordinaire.

If you clicked on the video and watched any portion of it then I’ll give you a minute to gather your senses.

This video, which at this date, 2 days after its original posting, has almost five thousand views. This in contrast to PSY’s Gangnam Style video, posted 5 months ago with now over a billion views.

A billion views can only be explained by the fact that Almighty God Himself, through His prophet Enoch, who landed in South Korea 2 years ago, is trying to tell us to watch out for the Antichrist – who happens to be a gay, transvestite pedophile.

It makes you wonder whether we need to issue conceal-carry permits to those who wish to wield the Holy Bible in public.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Milk to Skyrocket, Oil Not So Much

Is it not a symbol of how twisted our priorities have become that the wildly successful Oil and Gas industry had no problem getting its usual energy subsidies continued in a bill that passed the House and Senate last March, so the price of gasoline at the pump can remain below 4 or 5 dollars per gallon, but tonight we are not so certain that the vastly less costly federal subsidy on milk prices is now in jeopardy and are slated to expire, along with everything else, on January 1st.
Amazing to some, par for the course for others.
Subsidies to the oil industry an industry that needs anything but federal subsidies in an era where they get over 100 dollars per barrel of crude, to the tune of billions, keeps gasoline cheap in this country.
But subsidies to the dairy industry, one that counts its pennies and gets affected by drought and disease are not going to survive into the new year. This is going to bring the price of a gallon of milk to the range of 8 dollars per gallon. Twice that of a gallon of gasoline.
And that, like gasoline, is only one end of a long line of dominoes, including but not restricted to, the price of butter, cheese, bread, cereal – just about every baked good.
The oil industry is swimming in cash and so Barack Obama has called for an end to the oil and gas subsidies. The dairy industry not so much but any effort by the Obama Administration to move a dairy subsidy along falls on deaf ears.
Oil gets billions and dairy gets the shaft.
And that is how your congress, courtesy of the TEA Party, rolls.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No "Coming Together" in Red Texas

When Starbucks launched their latest marketing scheme, to get a cup of java enscribed with the words "come together" on December 27th and 28th, I looked upon it with a bit of cynicism as is my habit. A total marketing ploy for those who are consumed with the notion of losing tens of thousands of dollars on January 1st when taxes go up on everyone and the military budget gets slashed.
The fiscal cliff approaches, and Starbucks fell across a scheme to make some more dough off of their joe, and give its customers a place to vent.
I was cynical that their motives were pure, and also cynical about where I live, here in Red Texas, and how the last thing that most of the Texas delegation to the House want nothing more than to jump off that cliff.
So it came to no surprise to me that upon using my Starbucks gift card to buy a  couple of cups of very expensive coffee there was no such enscription on either paper cup.
None. And the message was clear - here in Red Texas coming together is the last thing on anyones' mind. This graphic should help those of you who have not seen it on Zuckerberg's website.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Of Cliffs and Café Mochas

Starbucks has a new marketing strategy based on the latest in the news.
If you buy a cup of Starbucks coffee tomorrow or Friday you will not only get your name inscribed on the side of the cup, but you will also get the words “Come Together” scribbled on it. And I guess we’re not talking about the old Beatles tune, either. Or maybe we are.
It’s a great marketing strategy, don’t you think?
See? You can have a six dollar cup of coffee, participate in a happening, and send a message to congress to get off their fiscal butts and pass something to prevent another recession so we all don’t lose thousands and thousands of dollars to the banks again.
And no matter what happens, Starbucks gets to sell more coffee.
So let’s all take our Starbucks gift cards down to our local Starbucks coffee shops and redeem them for some coffee tomorrow and Friday.
You can do all of the above but Starbucks already has that money in the gift card, don’t they.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ave Sol Invictus

Hail the Invincible Sun.

Today, is the anniversary of the birth of Sir Isaac Newton, Conrad Hilton, Robert Ripley, Carlos Casteneda, and Dido.

Oh, and also Jesus and Mithra

A couple of days ago, the sun stopped its long trip to the south on the Winter Solstice ending a journey it began on June 21st. It then set in the exact same spot for the next two days, and then on this day it has turned around and is now heading back north, bringing on the promise of the return of spring.

The Winter Solstice is celebrated by cultures around the world, and it has been like this for millennia. Ever since man watched the sun, stars and planets, we knew this about the sun.

In ancient Rome, Winter Solstice was celebrated in a three-day festival called Saturnalia. This was a pagan celebration of the invincible sun, which was called Mithra by the Persians who instigated the religion. Mithra’s birthday was naturally celebrated at resumption of its journey back to the north, then celebrated on December 25th.

It was a great holiday full of holiday cheer, frivolity, and mass consumption of food and drink. It became an embarrassment to the 4th century Bishop Liberius of Rome because this pagan holiday was celebrated in high style, but the celebration of the resurrection of Christ was a somber one. So it was announced that Jesus was actually born on the last day of the Saturnalia. And the birthday of the Sun became the birthday of the Son.

And it has been with us ever since.

So when you hear people complain about how we need to “put the Christ back in Christmas,” or that “Jesus is the reason for the season” just smile and nod in agreement. Then put another ornament on the fir tree, sing a song about snow and chestnuts, have another pull at the Wassail bowl, put on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” DVD and read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to your kids one more time.

Ho, ho, ho.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Obama Won

Well the truth is finally out. Barack Obama won last November by a landslide of electoral votes, much to the horror and chagrin of vast throngs of true and patriotic Americans who had “Nobama” and “Obama Must Go”(OMG) stickers attached to their pickup trucks. And now we know why.
Obama won the election because his opponent, Mitt Romney, really didn’t want to be president. He’s a very private person, you see, and being so much in the public eye was not something he wanted to do. So in effect, Romney threw the fight. Romney, and his advisors, all from the Bush political machine, knew how to win an election. They invented winning in the 21st century in 2004. But no, Romney really didn’t want to be president and so Obama is an accidental president because his opponent was not very enamored of the prize because the price of his loss of privacy was too high.
And no, I’m not talking trash, this is what Tagg Romney recently said of his father’s recent loss.
From the Boston Globe:

“’He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,’ said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. ‘If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention.’”

So there you have it. Obama is not a Christian, not an American (not white), and not really the President of the United States. And now we know that he was not actually re-elected either. Obama will be president for another 4 years because Mitt Romney didn’t really want to be president.
That makes so much sense. Someone who wants to be president wouldn’t staff his offices with one sixth of the staff of his opponent. Neither would he fail to have thousands of volunteers and a high-tech campaign strategy that made sure that every American got a personal contact.  Romney didn’t have any of that and now we know why. He didn’t want to win.
So Romney didn’t win because he didn’t really want to. Yeah…… That’s the ticket.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Too Pretty to Employ

The Iowa Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom has just told all attractive young Iowa women that their good looks is enough to get them fired from their jobs.
Melissa Nelson, a pretty young dental assistant working for James Knight DDS, of Fort Dodge, Iowa for ten years was told by her boss that because he was irresistibly attracted to her, and his wife knew it, she could no longer work for him.
The fact is, there was a harmless banter between them that neither objected to, but Knight’s wife apparently did. So Melissa had to go.
Think of it. The woman was not fired because she was a bad dental assistant, not fired because of any unwanted remarks, not fired because of some infraction, she was fired because the dentist’s wife had such low self-esteem that she badgered her husband into firing his employee.
And the Iowa Supreme Court has deemed it to be good and fitting.
Had the dental assistant been a man this would never have happened, would it?
 The point is, this is a new world we are living in. Women are fighting in air battles in the Middle East.  Women are finally ascending to equality in every way, and now we hear about a court’s decision that has all the attributes of one in 1952, not one in 2012.
Want to go back in time? Have I got a state for you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA Head Thumbs His Nose at Dead Children

Whoever thought that the NRA was going to change its tune this time with 20 dead children must have been smoking rope. The NRA has been, is now, and always will be the premier lobbyist for the arms industry. And now, with blood on his hands, Wayne LaPierre went out of his way on the 1 week anniversary of the Newtown massacre to thumb his nose at 20 dead children, 6 dead educators, and all of their friends and family.
This is because, according to LaPierre, just about the only thing that is not responsible for the mass killing last week, or any time before or in the future, is the availability of guns specifically designed to kill people.
It has become clear to more people now that people die horrible deaths because of “modern weaponry.” That is, weapons that shoot bullets faster than one can think from a seemingly limitless supply of bullets from high-capacity magazines.
But no. According to LaPierre, it’s all about violence in movies and video games. It’s all about the media who report things like mass killings – inconvenient truths for LaPierre’s bunch – so as to inspire copycats.
And to go further, LaPierre wants an armed policeman stationed at every school, and he asked “with all the money in the federal budget can’t we afford to put a police officer in every single school?”
In Texas, in the larger school districts, this is exactly what we have. It is paid for by the district taxpayers, not the federal government. Hiring one policeman for each school campus in America would do wonders for the unemployment rate, but from what money tree do you go to harvest their pay?
This is why I call on Wayne LaPierre and the NRA to foot the entire bill for a national police force to put one armed police officer at every campus in the United States. They can get the money from their bosses, the gun manufacturers.
Put up or shut up, LaPierre.
Or better yet, put up AND shut up.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Senator Box Turtle Disrespects the Gun Victims

Texas Senator John Cornyn, who once voted Nay on a bill that requires all licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers who engage in the transfer of handguns to provide secure gun storage or safety devices has come out today with a statement (delivered by one of his spokesmen) on the Newtown massacre of 20 small children and their teachers. And just as one would think, Cornyn is following the script of putting off the discussion for another day when – as he hopes – people will fog over and become embroiled in the next flavor of the day.
This has been the modus operandi of the gun lobby, the NRA, since the beginning of the gun control movement. Here is the released statement:
"Sen. Cornyn like most Americans is grieving with the families of the children and innocent individuals killed in Newtown Friday," Sandlin stated in an email. "While there will be a time for policy discussion, out of respect to those families, now is not the time. He has listed various ways to support the community of Newtown on his web site and remains focused on supporting this community in mourning."

Cornyn shames all Texans with this completely transparent move to make those of us who are making strong arguments not to let this tragedy go unanswered look like disrespectful louts. His crocodile tears fool no one.

In his disingenuous statement it is Senator Box Turtle who is disrespecting the victims of Newtown.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here It Comes: Subsidizing Religious Schools

State Senator Dan Patrick will chair the Texas Senate committee on Education in the next legislative session. And that, to many of us educators, was a signal that school vouchers will again become an issue next year. And this time, it is assumed that it will be steamrolled through the legislature like the redistricting maps and the school-starving budget were in the previous session.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that Patrick is going about the subsidization of religious institutions in a whole new way – through tax credits.
It seems Patrick’s plan is to offer up to 25% of the total tax liabilities of Texas businesses as a tax credit if they donate cash to private school scholarship programs.
These scholarship programs would benefit those in low-performing schools who could then enroll in private schools. And for private schools, read parochial schools.
To no one’s surprise the plan has the endorsement of about 90 percent of all private school organizations, many of which are religious in nature, and the rest of which are exclusive rich kid schools.
These tax credits, you know, either have to be made up by taxing someone else, or by cuts in state services – the majority of which is either health or education.
The agenda, it seems, is to support tax exempt for- profit schools at the expense of cuts to programs that Dan Patrick doesn’t like.
So the only thing that is different, here, is that the impact to schools is less direct, but there nonetheless, and religious institutions get a huge boost in donations because through state tax credits.
Taxpayers will end up paying for things that the business taxes don’t pay for, and in return they won’t get benefits from their own tax payments in terms of public education.
Isn’t it funny how these Texas Republicans are going to fix the problems in public education? It reminds me of how we saved Vietnam: in order to save Vietnam we had to destroy it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pistol Packin Perry Pimps for NRA

Well, the National Rifle Association has been conspicuously silent since last Friday when 20 first graders were massacred by a crazed gunman wielding the tools that they like to lobby for- semi-automatic weapons.
But here in Texas who needs the NRA when we have Pistol Packin’ Coyote Shootin’ Rick Perry to promote gun sales in his state?
Rick Perry is willing to let the local ISDs in his state decide whether or not their teachers and staff should carry concealed weapons to work every day. He even cited a district that allows this very thing, Harrold ISD the first such school district in the country.
The craziness just gets crazier, doesn’t it? These people simply double down on stupid.
I say Perry doesn’t go far enough.
Why limit gun toting to teachers and staff? What’s wrong with kids bringing their nines to school in their backpacks? They are, after all, the main targets, aren’t they?
And why limit it to just semi-automatic weapons? What’s wrong with bringing in pipe bombs? You can’t buy hand grenades at the local gun shop yet, well not legally anyway, but you can still make some good old black powder pipe bombs.
We can even create pipe bomb building in the science curriculum.
Safety goggles will be a must for that one, though.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Maybe This Time…

Maybe this time, now that we have massacred 1st graders in the news, maybe this time we can get something done about guns that have no earthly reason to exist other than to massacre innocents.
It is tragic that it takes this kind of vile action to do something, but in reading the news today I think it’s actually going to happen.
And by what measure to I make this projection? This snippet that I have excised from a piece in the Huffington Post:
“After high-profile shootings, debate over gun control can cause consumer demand for guns to rise, government records have shown. Industry experts say fears that stricter laws will follow such incidents push people to stock up on firearms before regulators can clamp down. But last weekend’s spike in business was unprecedented, gun shop owners in California, Connecticut and North Carolina told HuffPost.”
See? It has happened before after news of a gun massacre. Americans go to gun shops and gun shows after some people get killed in case there is a restriction on guns as a result. This time, the turnout was, ”unprecedented.”
People must really believe that this time it’s going to happen. If that is the case then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let the Conversation Begin

I am getting tired of these “so-called” cooler heads asking us all to stop talking about gun control in these sad days following the tragedy in Connecticut. We need to pray for the families, they say. Do anything but solve the problem.
It happened after Columbine. In the wake of the Columbine tragedy, Littleton Colorado was in a state of shock and “cooler heads” cried out against making this a political event. It was a tragedy, they said, and should not be besmirched by gaining a political leg up.
So we were quiet.
And except for Michael Moore’s documentary, nothing was ever said again about what to do about the availability of weapons capable of killing scores of people very quickly and efficiently.
It happened again after Virginia Tech, when Cho’s brutal assault on his classmates with semi-automatic pistols. “Cooler heads” dominated the conversation, and again we were admonished to remember the fallen and not to disrespect their deaths with calls to limit gun ownership.
And it’s happening right now.
The only problem with the argument is that it never became time to talk about how we can end the violence. We all moved on to the new flavor of the month. And the arms industry remained profitable, and the NRA leadership kept their cushy jobs.
So this time we have to just say NO. Say NO to the cooler heads. Say NO to those who want to end the conversation before it starts.
The dead are crying out. Avenge us. Don’t let this happen to a single other soul. Not to start talking about how to put a stopper on gun violence in this country disrespects the tragic deaths of schoolchildren and educators.
Say no. Let the conversation begin.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When Will We Ever Learn?

Today 26 people, including 20 elementary schoolchildren are dead because someone had too much gun and one too many rights to own them.
In Newtown, Connecticut a 20 year old man armed with two semiautomatic pistols and an assault rifle fired something like 100 rounds inside the walls of an elementary school inflicting a carnage that has not been seen since Columbine.
When will we ever learn?
The NRA stumps for the arms industry so that they can reap the profits of a gun mania that seems to have no limit, and the depths of a paranoia that seems to have no bottom.
How many more Columbines, Auroras, Tucsons, and now Newtowns must Americans endure before the gun industry finally becomes accountable and some sanity is restored to a nonexistent gun policy?
When it becomes impossible for someone to purchase guns capable of firing bullets at a high rate, and to purchase magazines that contain enough rounds to kill a herd of elephants this madness will come to an end. The insanity is this: guns provide the means and the ease to kill our fellow man. Knives are messy and you have to get in close. Guns make killing people oh so convenient. Guns have become a convenience in our society as much as any other labor-saving device.
This is the argument that answers the old saw about “guns don’t kill people, people kill people:
True, but guns make it ever so easy. Guns make it clean. Guns allow you to be distant both in mind and body from your victim.
Have a 2nd Amendment argument? We repealed the Volstead Act you know.
Time to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Dice for Rice

Susan Rice is one class act. She took a look around and saw what Republicans were going to do to the beginning of President Obama's second term and decided that what they were doing was going to hurt our country.
Now on one level, conscious intention to cause harm to our country just borders on treason. John McCain made no bones about the fact that he would try to block her confirmation at all costs. Block her confirmation because, as he alleges, she is not a bright woman.
This from the man who gave the nod to Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Irony of ironies. A Rhodes Scholar Sarah Palin is not.
Anyway, it looks like it will be John Kerry as SecState because Republicans are leaning over backwards signaling that he will be a shoe-in. A transparent attempt by the GOPers to give Scott Brown a mulligan - something that was apparent in Brown's "I'll be back" farewell speech in the senate today.
Anyway, in honor of the classiest woman in the Obama Administration, here is a Rice Palooza cartoon fest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Triple Twelve

It’s 12/12/12 today.
It is the last time this will happen in another 88 years. Just about all of us will have gone on to the other side by then so mark the day in some way.
This is my way.
We who rang the new millennium in, in 2001, have now had 12 triple dates starting on January 1st 2001 and going on up until today.
So I hereby pronounce this day as Twelve Day.
How many things are there twelve of? Lots more than I can enumerate, but let’s try:
  • Twelve apostles
  • Twelve pairs of ribs
  • Twelve days of Christmas
  • Twelve eggs in a dozen
  • Twelve months
  • Twelve zeroes in a trillion
  • Twelve inches in a foot
  • Twelve Tribes of Israel
  • Twelve jurors in a panel
  • Twelve function keys on a computer keyboard
  • Twelve signs of the zodiac
  • Twelve hues on the color wheel
That’s all I can come up with. Let’s see…how many is that?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Truce? What Truce?

Back when the Republican field of contenders for the presidential nomination was vast, so vast that it contained both serious and not-so-serious candidates, one of these wanna-be presidents, North Carolina governor Mitch Daniels to be specific, was quoted as saying that whoever wins in 2012, the president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while." For a while, that is, until the current economic issues were addressed.
An interesting point. This might have been one that some Republicans would have loved to have had even before the General Election given the circumstances that gave the Oval Office to the black president for the second time. Culture wars ruled the day and decided the election.
But now that the election is decided, it is now apparent that the fervent wish of Mitch Daniels is not going to come to fruition anytime soon, and this time it isn’t the politicians who are stirring the pot.
It’s the Supreme Court.
What better time to take up the dual question of the unconstitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure passed in 2008 that forbid marriage between same sex couples, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a similar federal law?
We’re all set to go over the fiscal cliff as Dems and Reps get into a staring contest watching for who is going to blink first. We’re all set to get another credit rating reduction by Moody when the issue of raising the debt ceiling comes before congress once again. We still have all of these problems, but there appears to be no truce in the culture wars now or in the immediate future.
And it’s not like we didn’t try.
Seemingly SCOTUS is operating in another dimension than the rest of us.
But don’t get me wrong. I welcome the declaration of DOMA as unconstitutional based on Equal Protection, and I will love it when the hated Prop 8 gets crushed and cast on the garbage heap of bad laws as I predict will happen. These days you can’t find many people on either side of the aisle that still thinks discrimination against gays is a grand idea except for the super-religious. The winds are blowing in a new direction as homophobes die and the young come of voting age.
I am looking for a huge reconciliation among us in the coming years vis-à-vis sexual orientation. This is not the beginning … that has already begun. I think it is the beginning of the end.
So we can all say to Mitch McDaniel: we don’t need your stinking truces.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The TEA Party is Over

Jim DeMint is DeOut and this is really, really good news for liberals.

Jim DeMint, in his role as uber-conservative TEA Party darling, arguably the highest-ranked TEA Party member in the federal government, did nothing for the country but bring government to a virtual standstill through his use of filibuster and heavy-handed tactics that reminded one of a bull in a china shop.

And now he is off to greener (and arguably, more lucrative) pastures in taking charge of the leading conservative lobby group, the Heritage Foundation. That, in the end is what it is all about with TEA Party leaders – more lucre for them.

It signals to me the beginning of the end of the effect of the TEA Party in federal politics. TEA Party candidates suffered huge setbacks in the last election as many teabaggers lost their jobs, and many more failed to get them for the first time.

And by going over to a lobby group, one can only hope that DeMint will carry on his good work of marginalizing the Republican Party even more as he primaries those who commit the audacious act of working with Democrats to cut a deal.

It is said that he is after John Boehner who, oddly enough, is making very small concessions to a federal tax increase – not so much in deeds as in words. Replacing John Boehner with an even more conservative House leader would serve the purposes of the Left like nothing else would. Americans are becoming increasingly leery of these demagogues who say one thing then do another and are turning out at the polls. His answer to widespread voter rejection of the TEA Party agenda last November is to double down.

In Texas, we know about doubling down. The heroes of the Alamo doubled down.

That got them double dead.



Thursday, December 06, 2012

Fillibusters Gone Wild

Mitch McConnell has set a new standard for when a Republican senator should filibuster a bill to prevent it from being called to the floor for a vote.
Today McConnell, in an apparent attack of pre-Alzheimer’s, or in imitation of the mindlessness of young nubile coeds on Spring Break, proposed a bill to raise the debt ceiling with the mistaken notion that neither Democrats nor Republicans would care to vote on that just now. It was yet another show of bravado, daring Democrats to step over the line that he drew in the dust.
Much to McConnell’s chagrin, Harry Reid took the bait and ran out McConnell’s fishing line for a mile before ol’ Mitch realized what he had done. Reid immediately called for an up or down vote on the floor, leaving McConnell no alternative but to filibuster his own bill.
Isn ‘t that just the best thing?
Here we have Republican senators setting all sorts of records as the 112th legislative session winds to a close, and Republicans have filibustered 110 times. Now this isn’t up to their previous record in the 110th congress of 139 cloture votes, but hey, who’s counting?
Who is counting when the Senate minority leader has now filibustered his own bill?
I wonder what McConnell does when he’s home alone and decides to pour himself two fingers of Maker’s Mark. Does he then nag himself about how he needs to cut back on the stuff?
Mitch McConnell made my day today.
Or maybe he didn’t…

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

Those of us who ply their trade in education are watching acase being tried in Austin before Judge John Dietz, a judge who is no stranger to school funding issues.

At issue is whether the state has properly provided enough funds to adequately educate Texas schoolchildren, but there appears to be some side issues.

One of the side issues was being discussed today with testimony of Duke University professor Dr. Jacob Vigdor. Vigdor claims that the quality of Texas’ education is at risk because the state refuses to pay its teachers enough money to make teaching an attractive profession among those who are qualified to teach them.

The implication is that teachers in Texas are substandard ones because who would teach students for such low wages, and that means that students in Texas will receive a substandard education.

Unfortunately, such statements reach the ears of parents who then look at their children’s teachers with poor regard.

This statement is also voiced in a most annoying commercial by ExxonMobil that professes that the best way to improve education is to educate these stupid teachers.

It even got worse in court proceeding as the argument became that teachers should be better paid so as to attract better teachers. One of the defense lawyers wondered if it wasn't a waste of money to spend it on a teacher who didn't produce results "and not getting what you paid for?"

Now the reason I hate all of this is that these arguments are being made with no discernible studies on performance in Texas schools when all you have to do is ask a teacher why there is a decline in education in Texas, and it has nothing to do with pay scale or teacher education.

It’s all about NCLB and accountability through high stakes testing.

But no, it’s easier to blame teachers and their poor education than a system of accountability that has single-handedly destroyed education in Texas.

You know, if only you were to take all the funds that goes toward managing the accountability system including some very high-end salaries, and all the test development done by contractors and all the testing materials that are paid for year after year – this is a billion dollar industry – and allow teachers to teach again, I think it might be possible to reverse this downward trend.

And maybe teachers will not be disrespected by nearly anyone anymore.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

March of the Wooden TEA Party

How many TEA Party Senators does it take to kill a disability treaty?
Thirty-eight, apparently.
Today, as former Senator Bob Dole sat at the entrance to the Senate chamber in his wheel chair, in a silent plea to the Senators of the party that once nominated him to the presidency to vote to ratify the United Nations’ Rights of People with Disabilities treaty, 38 Republicans filed past him with no intention of voting for the treaty.
Thirty-eight Republicans of the TEA Party persuasion, or those who are either beholden to TEA Party interests or afraid of them, voted NO to the ratification of this honorable treaty, one that was negotiated by the previous Republican administration no less.
And the measure, which needed a 2/3ds vote, failed.
One hundred and twenty-eight countries have ratified this treaty, including countries that treat their citizens far worse than this one does.
But America voted no.
And why was that?
Get ready…they were concerned that the UN treaty would infringe on the national sovereignty.
You know, like what we do all the time to other countries?
When Barack Hussein Obama was elected president, I felt very proud of my country, and the world viewed it with an eye that hadn’t regarded it that way since the Marshall Plan saved Europe from decades of poverty.
But now, with the TEA Party being the ugly thing that it is, we have swung back the other way.
The TEA Party is something that some senators want to live up to. To the rest of us, the TEA Party is something we have to live down.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday Evening Republican Budget Cartoon-palooza

Don't we all hate it when the regional minority party of the United States acts like it is a party of substance and the voice of the people? These jokers lost the election big time, and would have lost the House had congressional districts been drawn properly, yet they think that they will be the ones to decide how the budget shall go forward.
Not this time. The fiscal cliff looms and the Grand Obsolete Party thinks they can pull another fast one and rewrite the news that they, and they alone are going to be culpable should their intransigence launch our country into another recession.
But if we can't laugh at all of this, we're just going to cry.