Sunday, June 30, 2013

TEAbaggers Are KochFul

Oh man, there is a slugfest a-fixin’ta brew in Austin this next week.
Rick Perry, who is the governor of Texas, much to the chagrin of everyone who remembers how he couldn’t remember, on the national stage, which 3 federal departments he wanted to dissolve, has called a 2nd “emergency session” of the legislature, having found that his minions could not produce the heart of his desire: the total submission of Texas women to the will of his Evangelical Christian brethren - total acceptance of the relinquishment of their constitutional rights (federally guaranteed), a submission which has been denied them by State Senator, and soon-to-be governor-elect Wendy Davis and her aiders and abettors.
So the call has been issued to the Armies of Koch: Let us deny them their 1st Amendment rights. And hopefully, because they are spouting the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nonviolent civil disobedience, they will leave their Nines and ARs at home.
These armies, formed and funded by the Koch Brothers billionaires new fathers of the TEAbagger Movement, hope to disrupt the throngs who are “fixinta assemble peaceably” on the steps of the Texas legislature on Monday in opposition to those who brought an end to SB 5 when it became clear that the Texas Senate was bound and determined to pass a law while in the process of throwing out the rules of Texas Senate Procedures.
An act that is currently under review by the defunded (by act of Governor Perry) Political Integrity Unit of Travis County.
I can’t make this stuff up. It’s all true.
Unimaginably, in the 21st Century, this is all true.
I can't be there, but would if I could. I am there in spirit. '
Pink tennis and all.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

They Don't Get to Choose

Guys, and to my Texas readers (sorry), Y'all, despite what people might think of me, I am not self-isolated from those who hold contrary views to my own. Those who know me well, know that this has been doubly, or even triply the case over the past year.
Just so you know. I don't opine from an isolated atoll in the southwest Pacific. I surround myself with those with alternative views.
So this morning I logged on to Zuckerberg's website to see that one of my fb friends posted this meme on her status.

So, yeah, I didn't let it go unanswered. This is, verbatim, how I responded.
"A proper choice, a good choice. Just not the second choice of two that should be available to all women. And no government at any level, should be able to limit women's choices. That is between a woman, her doctor, and her family. Neither you, nor your pastor, nor your governor nor your congressman get to vote in this."
I don't know if I made any more friends, or developed any more enemies, but these things need to be said. I hate abortion as an entity. Wish it were never invented as a medical procedure. But it is now a choice for women, like it or not. And I will defend a woman's right to choose what is right for her without reservation. If it is an issue with God Almighty, that is something for a woman to work out with God, and not something for Governor Perry or Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst to have to involve themselves with. Texans need jobs. The economy could be better. That is what they need to work on. 
Unfortunately, I will not be there on the 1st in Austin to support the pro-choice crowd that will assemble there, although many that I know will be there. For that I am sorry. I could have been there but things got in the way.
Women who get pregnant, only they, get to choose what they are to do. They get to. Not you. Not someone's pastor. And damn well not some politician who has only political reasons for an opinion in this.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Internet is NOT Like Las Vegas

Just when you think another hate-mongering millionaire has caved and no will no longer spread his hatespeach around on the Internet because it doesn't sell as much chicken, Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy has gotten his foot stuck in his mouth again.
Cathy had bad, bad things to say about the SCOTUS decision to overturn DOMA yesterday. He was so upset about how gays and lesbians can now enjoy the same rights as the rest of us that he "Tweeted" this:

The cornerstone he refers to, I would guess, is marriage.
Now that the gays are getting married, that cornerstone is sullied in some way. Dan Cathy can no longer dine on his snot sandwiches without thinking of how gay people can have wedding rings,  can collect each others' social security checks, can see each other in the hospital, can file their 1040s as Married Filing Jointly, and can inherit each others' estates without paying taxes on them.
I imagine Dan Cathy now has to file for divorce.
Like in this video that I embedded in a previous post some time ago.

No, Dan Cathy was not having a good day and made it known to the world through his Twitter account, only to realize just a few minutes later that he might not be able to sell as many of his disgusting-tasting snot sandwiches as he could before, and erased it.
But Cathy needs to learn something about the Internet as much as he needs to learn about humanity and compassion. He needs to learn that while "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" the same is not true on the Internet.
Once it's on the Internet, it's there until Judgment Day
A day that in all probability will be another bad one for Dan Cathy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Justice Roberts: “It’s None of Your Business”

Well, no, Chief Justice Roberts, in his majority opinion that upheld the unconstitutionality of California Proposition 8, the so-called ban of gay marriage in that state, did not actually say that, that the enforcement of California’s law was none of the proposition supporters’ business, but that is what he meant.
They had no standing, in the Chief Justice’s opinion, and having no standing, had no right to argue the case in his court.

That’s kind of rare.

From SFGate:

“The justices ruled 5-4 that the sponsors of Proposition 8, the 2008 California initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, could not represent the state or its voters in appealing lower-court rulings that held the initiative unconstitutional. The measure's sponsors had stepped in after Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to defend Prop. 8.”

“Once Prop. 8 passed, its sponsors had ‘no personal stake in defending its enforcement that is distinguishable from the general interest of every individual in California,’ said Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion. They ‘answer to no one ... have taken no oath of office’ and ‘are plainly not agents of the state,’ he said.”
In other words, it’s none of your damned business…butt out.

"An Unruly Mob..."

For the time being, and we don't know how long that "time being" is, abortion is still as freely available in the state of Texas as it can be in a state that is ruled by a bunch of lying, duplicitous, and cheating legislators.
A mob, really. A mean, cruel, lying, cheating mob.
Oddly enough, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst labeled the crowded gallery that shouted down the dastardly and illegal vote in the last 10 minutes of the special "emergency" legislative session an "unruly mob."
Here is what he said to a bunch of reporters earlier today after his bill failed:

"An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies."
"Dewhurst said SB5 passed 19-10, but with all the ruckus and noise, he couldn't hear the proceedings, and now 'I can't sign the bill' so it can go to Gov. Rick Perry" 

The only difference between the mob on the floor of the Senate, and the mob in the gallery is that the ones on the floor were moving silently and stealthily, making outrageous rulings on what is germane and what is not, and essentially tossing out the Senate Rules in an effort to get that heinous bill passed.
They were a mob in disguise. The mob in the gallery made no bones about the fact that they had just witnessed some very bad behavior, and reacted as anyone would, with outrage. Loud and vociferous outrage.
Because sometimes bad actors working in the shadows need to be called out, need to be exposed for what they are, and last night/this morning, that is exactly what happened.

Why Elections Matter

Remember back in 2000 when we had chaos in Florida and as a result the wrong man was elected President of the United States and we have, 13 years later, thousands dead and trillions spent on two wars? Remember that?
Well a small sample of that just took place in Austin Texas tonight and this morning as the State Senate went through what was a very messy process to enact SB 5, the worst anti-choice bill to be considered in America.
Sausage-making is a much cleaner process by contrast.
And here, at the end, we still don't know what prevails. The process was so rife with procedural errors that the whole thing should be thrown out. And at the end, while it seemed to this viewer that they took a vote on "The Previous Question" we have no idea whether it counted.
My pessimistic guess is that it will be rammed through as having counted, but we now have these two opinions to contend with.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston: "We started voting before midnight," and therefore, it counted.
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas: "The session is over's over with at midnight," and so, the vote doesn't count.
Funny how bad politics seem to raise its ugly head year after year.
Funny how Republicans and their shady maneuvers always seem to be at the bottom of it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Help Wendy Win

State Senator Wendy R. Davis is filibustering SB 5, the anti-choice bill right now in the State Senate. She has another 6 hours to go before the special legislative session ends at midnight tonight.
Right now, the Senate is undergoing a review of a Republican point of order, the umpteenth that has been thrown at her since she began her heroic effort to stop the tyranny of SB 5. Every time someone claims that she has gotten off subject, no matter how narrow the interpretation of what "off subject" is, it is an attempt to end the filibuster. She gets three warnings, as I understand it, then the Senate can vote to end the filibuster, with a simple majority doing the deed.
So Wendy Davis needs your stories. Everyone has one. Everyone who does not have a personal story involving abortion knows someone who has. So go to this website and upload your story. It must be on-subject, and it is limited to 500 words or less.
Go do it. Help Wendy Win.
I did.

Monday, June 24, 2013

97 to 33?

OK, so the vote on the House floor this morning was to approve SB 5, a bill that will end, for all intents and purposes, a woman’s ability to receive abortion services in Texas was just that, 97 to 33.
This was a bill about all sorts of things that go into women’s health. As it currently stands, if agreed to in the State Senate later on today (or more likely, later on tomorrow morning), 37 clinics that provide such services as cancer screenings and contraception but also provide abortion services,  will be forced to close
In addition, a woman may not receive an abortion after 20 weeks gestation period, with no exceptions in the case of incest or rape.
The bill’s sponsor, Jodi Laubenberg, defended this latter provision because, among other things, emergency rooms have “rape kits” that” clean a woman out,” a patently ridiculous notion that revealed the woman’s catastrophic ignorance in these matters. Rape kits cannot be and are not used as substitutes for a D and C.
But here’s the thing. The bill’s purpose was never really demonstrated in the hearings, nor in the floor debate. This is because its purpose is obvious to all, as State Rep Jessica Farrar most astutely pointed out.

"The truth is that these bills aren't about women's health, and they aren't about the will of the people. They are about winning Republican primaries."

And that’s the sad truth.  At 97 to 33, taken proportionately, this means that Texans favor these measures by a 70% to 30% split. This is far from the truth. According to a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rossner Research, Texans do not favor these measures, and oppose enacting any more restrictions on abortion services by  63%, and 71% believe that a special legislative sessions should be for the purposes of improving the economy and the jobs situation.
This vote is not about women’s health. It’s about the political health of the 97.
These 97 must live in eternal fear that they will be primaried by the TEA Party.
And that is what drives politics in Texas today. We will not be able to have our government back until the scourge of the TEA Party is forever erased from state and national politics.


At 3:25 AM, the Texas State House passed, like a thief in the night, SB 5. A bill that will end, for all intents and purposes, legal abortion in the state of Texas.
The gallery in the House, at that moment erupted in the following:
Exactly that. Shame.

This isn't over. The Texas legislature has just passed an unconstitutional law. Now it goes to the courts.

I dare you, SCOTUS, overturn Roe v. Wade.

Overturn it, and give Democrats the nation for the next century.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Russell Brand Skewers Morning Joe

I would have hated to have this guy as a student, but what actor/comic Russell Brand did to the usual talking heads on Morning Joe – minus Joe (luckily for him), the other morning has America in stitches. Embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Texas GOP Set to Follow Mississippi

Tomorrow is the big day for the anti-choice activist Texas legislature as they have on their agenda, starting at 2 PM, a floor debate on Senate Bill 5, the measure to force clinically unnecessary requirements on Texas clinics that provide abortion services, so that of the ones currently open and taking patients, only 5 will remain in business when the bill becomes law.
That's right, of the many "emergencies" that we have in Texas, this is the one that Governor Perry and the GOP majority has fast tracked for passage.
And while Texas always prides itself in the fact that things that are bad in Texas, like education, are worse in Mississippi, the present measure to be debated is akin to the Mississippi law enacted earlier this year, the main portions of which were blocked from being enforced by a federal judge.
Texas is on a roll, it seems, and is hell-bent on being the state with the most laws overturned in federal court.
So to get us all in the spirit of what is going to be a brutal day for those of us who oppose big government intervention in the personal health issues of Texas women, here is a collection of topical political cartoons, old and new.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On Being Repetitive and Helpful

On Thursday, and spilling over into Friday morning, Senate Bill 5, which was being considered in committee with opportunity for public testimony, was challenged by a phalanx of women who stormed the Capitol with the idea to delay consideration of the bill by the House by means of "public filibuster." 700 women signed up to speak for 3 minutes each (a total of 35 hours of testimony) and the hearing, which began in the late afternoon, went until a twenty to four in the AM until the chairman of the committee, Byron Cook, R-VaginasRus informed the assembled hundreds that they were starting to "become repetitive and unhelpful."
Repetitive and unhelpful.
Reminding me that the very purpose of this blog is to be repetitive and unhelpful.
Need I repeat myself that the Republican Party, of any shape, is morally corrupt?
Apparently so. Repetition is a key methodology in education theory. The more I say it, the more one may be inclined to remember it. Maybe even believe it.
Need I post these blogs with the aim of helping the Republican Party do their jobs?
Definitely not. Not my intent, nor was it the intent of these assembled hundreds to be helpful to these committee members so that they may render a reasoned judgment on the bill.
To expect these women to be of any help to this committee at all is to expect that these committee members want nothing to do with total government interference in personal health issues of women.
And you know, the irony is that this committee meeting was delayed 4 hours because of deliberations in the House over redistricting. Something that came about because of their bad behavior when district maps were drawn up the first time, requiring a court case to settle.
Ironic because the House is set to repeat itself once again, enacting bad laws that will wind up in front of another judge.
This kind of repetitiveness is not particularly helpful, and people who are paying the taxes to let these clowns behave badly should be righteously angry.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ted Cruz: Friend of the Immigrant

Today Ted Cruz, Texas’ junior senator, stood up in front of the Senate and cried a long trail of tears for the poor immigrant, who, lo, loses life, limb and property at the border every day.  No, I kid you not. Here is an excerpt of what must be called an Oscar-moment in the Senate.
From the Washington Post:
"No one who cares about our humanity would want to maintain a system where the border isn't secure," Cruz said, noting that "vulnerable women and children" are being preyed upon by drug dealers and are being "left to die in the desert."
"This is a system that produces human tragedy," Cruz continued. "And the most heartbreaking aspect of this gang of eight bill is it will perpetuate this tragedy. It will not fix the problem. It will not secure the borders." 
Whaaaat? Ted Cruz is now sobbing about the fate and the unfairness being meted out on these law breakers? The Ted Cruz who is famous for saying “…in my opinion, if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules.
First he was all about no amnesty for illegals and now it’s “Lo, the poor immigrant?
I think I know where he is coming from here. Cruz has been talking up his own path to citizenship which has been lauded in conservative circles as the model for Hispanic immigrants to follow. But now, he has just learned that his dad is talking to reporters and his “pure as driven snow” story about his family’s journey to America is coming out as anything but pristine.
Ted’s dad, Raphael Cruz, came to America circuitously. Fighting on the side of the Fidelistas, Raphael was captured by Batista’s army and imprisoned. Released a year later, he decided to leave Cuba and got a family friend to bribe a Batista official to get an exit visa on his passport.
The first act, you see, of the Cruz family’s adventure to the United States and citizenship was founded on a crime.
And Cruz’s dad fought for Fidel Castro.
So I can see how Ted Cruz has had to change his tune considerably. This news is going to come out, and has come out with a fury.
And now Ted Cruz is in DC crying a river over the poor immigrants’ plights.
Hierba mala nunca muere.
Translation: Weeds never die.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Juneteenth!

It's June 19th 2013 and in Texas we (or some of us, anyway) call it Juneteenth.
On June 19th 1863, exactly 150 years ago today, Texas first received word, at the Port of Galveston, of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, whereby all slaves currently held in states currently in rebellion were declared then and forever free.

It took an act of Congress, literally, to do the rest a little later on, but this was a nice start.
Not coincidentally, this is also the 49th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On that day, President Johnson announced that the Democratic Party would be "signing away The South for 50 years."
Did I ever mention that I thought that President Johnson was an optimist?

They Feel Pleasure

Given the revelations of the other day, I now have to wonder at two coincident trends in the continued governmental intrusion into the lady-parts of the lady-people in our country: the federal ban of all abortions after 20 weeks gestation, and the state and local laws requiring trans-vaginal sonograms for women who have indicated their desire for an abortion procedure to be done on them.
The House recently passed a hugely restrictive and probably unconstitutional bill to ban all abortions (except in the cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother) after a 20 week gestation period.
Say the backers of this bill, a human fetus is able to feel pain after 20 weeks, and so the infliction of pain on a fetus during abortion termination is considered to be a reason to ban abortions after that date.
Congressman Michael Burgess, an OB/GYN himself, has objected to this time period, saying that a human fetus can feel pain well before the 20 week cutoff period. Burgess says that he has participated in the “delivery of thousands of babies, attending thousands of women during their pregnancy, performance of thousands of sonograms.”
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”
OK, that was, as the kids say these days, TMI.

But then I started to ask myself, how does one get to view thousands of sonograms if not for the fact that they are mandated by state law for every abortion procedure in that state, whether it is clinically necessary or not.
And then, stepping onto ground that I really don’t wish to tread, asking myself whether there is a causal connection between these required sonograms and some legislators or doctors who simply “like to watch.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ready for SUPER MOON?

Have you been inundated by Super Moon mass emails or Super Moon postings by your friends on Zuckerberg's Website? It happens every year or so. I remember this photoshopped image last year when it was about to happen.

This year we are getting another. Here is the new one.

If you are prone to imagination, as I am, you might be able to squeeze in there a bunch of kids on bicycles with one of them carrying a juvenile extra-terrestrial wrapped in a blanket on his handlebars.
But don't get all excited and ready to see a moon fill your eyes on June 23rd.
It won't happen.
What does happen once every year is that The Moon orbits Earth in its near approach or perigee of roughly 226,600 miles or 362,600 kilometers and this year that day will fall on 23 June. On that day, The Moon will be a little over 10% closer to Earth than it is at its apogee.
The Moon's orbital eccentricity is about 0.0549. That's not a lot. The eccentricity of a perfect circle is 0.0.
So while "Super Moon" will appear to be larger in the sky, don't look for the eye-filling/sky-filling images you see on your emails or on Zuckerberg's website. Between its perigee and apogee, The Moon's growth in size is only about 14% - hardly noticeable unless you put two photos of each event next to each other. Like this one, that I got from Wikipedia.

Not nearly as fun...huh?

Monday, June 17, 2013

The New Code Word for N***er

Oh, well thank you very much Congressman Jeff Duncan (R – SC (So Crazy)). We now have recorded for historical posterity the latest right wing conservative code word for President Barack Obama’s self-acknowledged racial identity – รก la The Confederacy: “Validity.”
It’s not so much that he is African-American, or a Kenyan, or a Muslim, none of that. It is that for one or all of the above, he has a “Validity” problem.
My guess is that Congressman Duncan’s mind suffers from a “Rationality” problem. Either that or he has one too many scoops of fried grits between his ears.
For your listening pleasure (no thankful acknowledgments are required).

SCOTUS Votes No on Voter Suppression

I don’t know what is bigger news, the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States voted in a 7-2 decision – aka not even close to a 5-4 split – that voters who register in Arizona don’t have to provide proof of citizenship (‘cause that’s big news) or whether I can’t read a word of that news in any Texas newspaper that I have logged on this morning.
This is pretty decent national news of local importance because not only does it strike a blow against Republicans trying to suppress the votes of naturalized US citizens – who tend to vote Democratic – but it also puts the kibosh on local plans to pass likewise bills in Texas.
Big news, there is no doubt, but I had to read about it on MSNBC, not the Houston Chronicle, and not the Austin American-Statesman.
The story behind that omission I will only speculate on.
But again, I bury the lead in a story only of local interest.
Texas’ plans to suppress the vote through a similar bill that amends the federal Motor Voter Law has just been thrown onto the trash heap of history. According to the Brennan Center for Justice website, Texas was one of eight states waiting in the wings to see whether Arizona’s voter-approved Prop 200 would pass federal court muster. Arizona’s law added a stipulation that voter registrants also need to show actual proof of citizenship when registering. This requirement is over and above the federal requirement that registrants need only check a box indicating that they were citizens. At this time the states of Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia have similar bills filed in their legislatures.
But not anymore I guess.
Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two of the worst Supreme Court justices in the history of The Court were the lone dissenters.
Stupid, but ballsy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Scratch Jeb

We already know that Jeb Bush will not make the final cut in the 2015 primary race to decide who will be the Republican nominee to challenge Barack Obama’s successor. We already know that. While the country is willing to go two-fers on the Bush dynasty, a three-fer is not in the making.
Dubya essentially poisoned the well on the possibility that another Bush could possibly occupy the Oval Office. Even Republicans shy away from that notion. But as if to seal the deal on this, Jeb Bush has opened his mouth at the a time when it is least welcome: during the immigrant labor debate now raging in DC.
Jeb Bush has come out as the great defender of immigrant labor in the United States.
My oh my, what the primary-voting flavor of the Republican Party and TEApublican Party must be thinking and saying to each other as they sit in circles from coast to coast cleaning their weapons.
Here is what Jeb Bush says about immigrant labor, courtesy of The Washington Post:
Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans,” Bush said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to the Majority conference. “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity… If we don’t do it [encourage immigrant labor, I guess], we will be in decline, because the productivity of this country is dependent upon young people that are equipped to be able to work hard.

Primary-voting Republicans are as far away from the notion that immigrant labor is a plus for the US economy as primary-voting Democrats are from the notion that the past health care system in America was just ducky.
Jeb Bush has just announced that he will not be a candidate in the 2015 primary season.
Jane Fonda has better chances.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wanna Go To War Again?

Well, now it is official, the US government has concluded that chemical weapons have been used on Syrian civilian populations “several times” since hostilities began between Syrian president Assad’s loyal forces and rebel forces who are vying for power in that besieged country.

A civil war, it seems, has broken out in Syria, and the ones in power are striving to stay in power by using weapons that are on the international list of weapons of mass destruction that are no-nos in modern warfare.
This crosses Barack Obama’s so-called “red line” or a line drawn in the sand where, if crossed, means that we are going to get really, really mad.
So Assad crossed that line, and now we are going to have to come to grips with the fact that we have another civil war in the Middle East, and we have to decide how we are going to act, if at all, for or against one side or another.
Now on one level, I am going to have to come down on the “why is this our business” side, yet again. Vietnam, one could say, was a civil war that we weighed in on, and it cost us dearly in lives and treasure. 
But apparently, no one is talking about boots on the ground, we’re only talking about arming the opposition. Much like we armed the Mujahedeen who were fighting the Soviet Union, who then turned against us when we had the temerity to invade their country a generation later.
John McCain, a US senator who has never met a war he didn’t like, says that arming the opposition is too little too late now, and argues for more.
From ABC News:
“But providing arms alone is not sufficient," said McCain in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "That alone is not enough to change the military balance of power on the ground against Assad. The president must rally an international coalition to take military actions to degrade Assad's ability to use air power and ballistic missiles and to move and resupply his forces around the battlefield by air. This can be done, as we have said many times, using stand-off weapons such as cruise missiles. We cannot afford to delay any longer. Assad is on the offensive with every weapon in his arsenal and with the complete support of his foreign allies. We must take more decisive actions now to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria."
Cha-ching. Cruise missiles cost about 100 large for each one shot off. That makes good economic sense for a nation that is going through withdrawals from having two simultaneous ground wars in the Middle East, to having a few thousand troops remaining in Afghanistan.Cruise missiles shot off, and a few hundred JDAMs dropped over Syria, that should be a boost to our armament manufacturers.
And just in time for the Independence Day sales.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Perry Defunding Public Integrity?

In a move that, I predict, will haunt him wherever he plants his flag in any further political aspirations, Texas governor Rick Perry has just acted to defund Public Integrity in Texas.
Yes, that is it. Tom DeLay violated the public trust and was found guilty of two felony offenses which could only have happened if he had neither personal nor public integrity. And the office of the District Attorney of Travis County was instrumental in bringing this about, specifically the Public Integrity Unit that is run by the Travis County DA that enforces public integrity laws for all of Texas.
But now Perry has moved to defund that particular unit, rendering enforcement of all sorts of laws regulating government behavior, specifically, a watchdog unit over government corruption, inert. Incapable of enforcing a single law against a single corrupt government official.
This is what Rick Perry seeks to have as his legacy? The first Post-Reconstruction Texas governor to obstruct enforcement of anti-corruption laws?
So be it.
Move over Huey Long. Texas has one-upped your state.   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our Ignorance is the Only Revelation

The Manchester Guardian has the latest scoop on how the NSA has, and can monitor your email and your phone conversations. The hue and cry from both the right and left has been deafening. But what is often omitted is the fact that not only is this all done legally, it has been legal ever since the Patriot Act was pushed through congress.
The Patriot Act was a blatant power grab allowed by Democrats and Republicans in congress in the days following 9-11. It was the Bush Administration's single-handed usurpation of personal privacy that alarmed some of us nearly 12 years ago, but only now is it becoming obvious to the rest of us.
The lowest of us have even used these revelations as a basis for further attacks on Barack Obama, who has the unfortunate circumstance of being black while President, and must now bear the brunt of conservative attacks on a program begun by those of their own ilk.
Because he is black.
Really, the only revelation here is our collective ignorance of what has been reality for nearly a dozen years now.
Fortunately there is a fix to this. There is a way for a private citizen to convey his thoughts to another private citizen without fear of government interception. Most of us have abandoned this mode of communication for the convenience of electronic transmissions. Maybe this will spark a re-emergence of a mode of communication, as elucidated by this message.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Perry Signs HB 5

Well today Rick Perry signed into law the much anticipated HB 5, a bill that would purportedly decrease the number of required end of course exams needed to graduate from high school from 15 to 5, and decreasing the overall rigor of how much of what a high school student is required to take.
If that were all of it, not much to report. HB 5, however, is a giant grab bag of education issues. Here are but a few
-          Allows electronic transfer of students’ transcripts from one school to another.
-          Limits assistance through a grant for addition to school property to be not more than 200/sq ft. for a science lab or 100/sq ft for renovation of same, and requires school districts demonstrate deficient facilities before additions or renovations may be approved
-          Develop sequences of rigorous career and technology courses for high-demand, high-wage careers.  
-          Provides for a minimum number of times that classrooms may be interrupted for non-academic announcements.
-          Provide for a minimum number of times a student may be taken out of class for remedial lessons.
-          Sets standards of minimum attendance for course credit of 90 percent of total attendance days
-          Provides for apprenticeship programs.
And on and on…
The stuff about decreasing the number of requirements and end of course exams needed doesn’t start until where Sections 14 and onward are emended.
For this, note that the previously adopted 4X4 is defunct. No longer will students be required to take 4 social studies courses, 4 math and 4 science courses.
In short, the grand experiment in increased rigor for Texas high school students is at an end at long last.  
In science, students are no longer required to take physics or chemistry. The only required course is biology. Also required is one “advanced” science course and a course in integrated physics and chemistry (or an additional advance science course).
Bottom line: a science course curriculum that is most likely are again IPC, Biology, and then probably Chemistry.
And an end of course only for biology.
In short, there are lots and lots in this bill and the only part that people care about are the ones that make the headlines. As we go forward it will be interesting to see what else falls out of the wash.
Not surprisingly, “Charter schools” are found throughout the document.