12.29.14

TPA Blog Round Up (December 28, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 11:22 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is making the usual New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and eat less as brings you the last blog roundup of 2014.

Off the Kuff stays on top of all of the legislative special elections that are going on.

Libby Shaw republished a diary she posted last year on Texas Kaos on Daily Kos in order to remind us about what happens in a state with so little oversight. GOP Texas: Where state funded cancer research can become a slush fund for politicians.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out that there’s no telling what will happen in the next legislative session, but some think it won’t be so bad. Don’t buy it: Let’s Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves.

The blood lust of the Texas Republicans will not be sated with just five doses of execution drugs available. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders what Greg Abbott will do.

Some recent national conversations seem to reinforce the premise that an independent progressive movement might be valuable to effect the kind of change that would attract the vast majority of non-voting Americans. What it might look like and where to get started remain the primary hurdles. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found some justification in his efforts to work within and without the Democratic Party simultaneously.

Neil at All People Have Value said we have the right to elect liberals to public office in big cities without the police rebelling and undermining the democratically elected choice of the people.  All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

Uncle O’Grimacy at McBlogger, in a post-election spurt of frequent posting, catalogued the butthurt of Battleground Texas.

Egberto Willlies pounced on a truth inconveniently uttered by Sunday Talking Head Chuck Todd.

Bluedaze would really like to know exactly who Chris Faulkner of Breitling Energy is.

And the Lewisville Texas Journal has the city’s answers to questions about Ferguson Plaza.

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And here’s some great posts from other blogs across Texas.

Grits for Breakfast has a question for incoming Bexar County DA Nico Lahood about post-conviction case reviews.

TransGriot updated the (still-delayed) status of Houston Metro’s newest light rail lines.

jobsanger thinks it’s bad news that six of the most powerful eleven committees in the House of Representatives will be chaired by Texas Republicans.

Texas Politics reports that the TXGOP won’t be moving their primary from March 1 in order to create a “Super Southern Tuesday” primary with six other Dixie Republican strongholds.

Socratic Gadfly bids a hasty lumbago to Rick Perry.

The Dallas Morning Views makes the case for a national child day-care system.

Texas Observer Radio has an interview with founder Ronnie Duggar.

Fascist Dyke Motors tells a story about faith.

Last, Free Press Houston has the account of the police and military’s cyberstalking of Houston’s anti-abuse and First Amendment activist, Evan Carroll.

12.28.14

Let’s Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 2:43 pm by wcnews

There is an effort afoot in Texas to make the case that the GOP may not govern as extreme as they campaigned.  So much so that they may even be open to expanding Medicaid in Texas.  And that Democrats may be able to accomplish something in 2015.  Both of those ideas should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are two articles in particular today, Democrats see glimmer of hope in Legislature despite numbers and Medicaid expansion supporters see sliver of hope in Abbott.

In the first article some seem to believe that Democrats involvement in legislative battles means there’s some glimmer of hope for them getting things accomplished in the upcoming legislative session.

Some Democrats take heart in the fact that two of their top priorities – education and transportation – also are among Gov.-elect Greg Abbott’s targets. Since beating Democrat Wendy Davis on Election Day, Abbott has been vocal about the need for bipartisanship to carry out his agenda.

“What he’s been saying is encouraging, and I take him at his word,” said state Rep. Chris Turner of Fort Worth, who managed Davis’ campaign and chairs the House Democratic Caucus. “To the extent he and other Republicans want to focus on education and transportation and other core issues like that, I think they’ll find that Democrats are ready and willing to work together and find solutions.”

Longtime Democratic consultant Harold Cook said it is not all doom and gloom for his party’s legislators, explaining they should feel heartened by the senior staff announced so far by Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick. Calling the officials “certified grown-ups” and “honest brokers” with bipartisan credentials in Austin, Cook said they should offer a sliver of hope to Democrats worried about this session.

“Let’s face it, a lot of Democrats are not going to agree with the ideological stuff. That happened on Election Day,” Cook said. “What you can deal with is whether your voice is heard and whether your view is considered.”

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said Democrats in recent years have proven adept at doing just that.

“They’ve been very smart and savvy about cutting deals and holding the line when they could,” said Rottinghaus, citing efforts to slow down the legislative process with amendments and points of order. “To be honest, Republicans sometimes bit off more than they can chew.”

Although their party suffered losses up and down the ballot in November, Democratic incumbents still are keeping watch for what they view as GOP overreach. Among the likely partisan battles: the potential repeal of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, a move that Patrick supports but about which Abbott has been less vocal.

If leadership pursues a repeal, Turner predicted some Republicans would join Democrats to fight the move. He expressed hope the talk of rolling back the Texas DREAM Act is just that – one of a number of “things said in campaigns that don’t turn into actual policy.”

While that sounds good it doesn’t really mean anything.  The agenda will be set from an extreme right wing perspective.  And the GOP could care less about any Democratic priorities.  Any “bipartisan solutions” on education and transportation will only make Democrats complicit in the final GOP outcome(s).  Which will still be bad, if only less so, with Democratic involvement.

There’s little if anything good for Democrats that comes out of Democrats being involved in right wing policies. Most people don’t believe in the extreme outcomes the GOP wants.  But, as has been covered ad nauseam since the election, most people don’t vote. It has not served Democrats in Texas well over the recent past to play along with GOP legislation. It’s unlikely that Democrats will benefit by being party to the GOP’s agenda.

Not to worry, it’s not like Democrats are knocking down my door asking for suggestions.  I’m pretty much inline with PDiddie, An independent progressive movement.

The strongest argument for a progressive movement, independent or third-party, remains that the two corporate political parties are still essentially one; half of the duopoly is just meaner and more cruel than the other.  Do ya really think the disparity between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush makes up enough of a difference to motivate the 2/3rds of Americans who did not vote in 2014 to storm the ramparts supporting one or the other?  Is the Democratic slogan going to again consist of “we’re not perfect but they’re nuts”?  I can already hear the complaining from low information voters about their 2016 choices.  We can either sit around and watch those people as they sit out yet another election, or give them some real options.  Whether they decide to choose is still up to them, of course; many won’t.  Some folks will watch teevee no matter what gets televised, even if it happens to be a revolution.  But there are still many left-leaning, working-class Americans waiting to be motivated again, as they were by Occupy, as they were at the Texas Capitol in the summer of 2013, as there are now against the worst and continuing examples of racialized police abuse and criminal justice applied as an elitist commodity.

If the Democratic Party is salvageable it must come from the outside. My issue with the Democratic Party is almost entirely with it’s abandonment of a New Deal style economic policies. The Democrats are no longer seen as the party of the people, and that’s whey they’re having so much trouble getting people to turn out to vote for them.

Hopes of the GOP not governing as cruelly as they campaigned, and the Democrats being able to get a few scraps from Straus and Abbott doesn’t inspire me, and certainly won’t inspire anyone else.  And, as far as Medicaid expansion goes, there’s no chance as long as Dan Patrick has a gavel.

To be sure, the odds of any form of expansion start out as slim in a Legislature that is expected to be one of the most conservative in recent memory. The Senate, in particular, is expected to pursue an agenda supported by the tea party under the leadership of Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick.

A spokesman for Patrick, who staunchly opposes the health care law, did not return a message seeking comment.

One of his allies, Sen.-elect Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he does not think there is an appetite for any compromise for expansion, particularly because a case about challenging the Affordable Care Act is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court said it would hear oral arguments in March about the constitutionality of subsidies for consumers who purchase health insurance through the law’s federal marketplace.

If I was running an independent movement I would start with the issues of unfairness and inequality. That would start with raising wages and a progressive state income tax at the top of the list. There’s no easier way to help families by increasing wages. And no better way to target unfairness then with a progressive state income tax.

But nothing will happen to address the needs for poor, working, and middle class Texans until we force the political system to address our needs. And that can’t happen in the current political environment.  Which is why the change must come from the outside.

12.22.14

TPA Blog Round Up (December 22, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:18 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that all your days are merry and bright as they bring you this week’s holiday roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the pro-discrimination bills that Republicans will be pushing in the Legislature next year.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos insists that Texas will continue to have foxes guarding the public hen houses as long as the Republican culture of kleptocracy and crony capitalism persists. Texas Investigates Medicaid Fraud Detection Firm for Corruption.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is proud of Corpus Christi Police Chief, Floyd Simpson, for disciplining officers for use of excessive force. When officers act inappropriately, all too often there are no consequences.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. As oil prices plummet we’re reminded of Texas oil busts past, and the reality of the so-called “Texas Miracle”, It Looks Like Things Are About To Change.

Houston’s city council gave a $17 million sloppy kiss to Valero as a Christmas present, and city attorney David Feldman left a flaming bag of poo on Mayor Annise Parker’s doorstep. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has suddenly realized that 2015’s municipal elections can’t come soon enough.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about peace with Cuba. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist takes a look at the rapid growth of the Houston Area Pastor Council. If Houstonians think think the fight over the Equal Rights Ordinance is over, they better think again. One of the country’s most powerful hate groups is now in our back yard.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Watch introduces its Safe Texas agenda.

Dwight Silverman suggests that kids today will do just fine without “tech timeouts”.

Andrea Grimes criticizes that Texas Monthly “Bum Steer Award” cover illustration of Wendy Davis.

The Texas Living Waters Project forecasts the 2015 oyster season in Galveston Bay.

Keep Austin Wonky summarizes the homestead exemption debate.

The Lunch Tray celebrates the exclusion of Chinese-processed chicken in school food and other child nutrition programs.

The Bloggess is running her annual Christmas gift and charity drive.

12.18.14

It Looks Like Things Are About To Change

Posted in Around The State, Taxes, The Budget, The Economy at 3:22 pm by wcnews

oilirg

From EOW’s post election analysis:

The one issue that often gets overlooked, that made Davis and the Democrats job extremely hard, is the [extremely good] economic conditions in Texas.

There’s nothing so sweet as being the Texas Governor during an oil boom, and exiting right before the bust. Via Kevin Drum at MoJo, Rick Perry Is One Lucky Dude.

Man, Rick Perry is one lucky guy, isn’t he? It’s true that the “Texas Miracle” may not be quite the miracle Perry would like us to believe. As the chart below shows in a nutshell, the Texas unemployment rate has fared only slightly better than the average of all its surrounding states.

Still, Texas has certainly had strong absolute job growth. However, this is mostly due to (a) population growth; (b) the shale oil boom; and (c) surprisingly strict mortgage loan regulations combined with loose land use rules, which allowed Texas to escape the worst of the housing bubble. Perry had nothing to do with any of this. And now that oil is collapsing and might bring the miracle to a sudden end, Perry is leaving office and can avoid all blame for what happens next.

One lucky guy indeed.

This is culled from a blog post where the specter of oil busts past (1986) are being discussed.

As we weigh the evidence, we think Texas will, at the least, have a rough 2015 ahead, and is at risk of slipping into a regional recession. Such an outcome could bring with it the usual collateral damage that occurs in a slowdown. Housing markets have been hot in Texas. Although affordability in Texas looks good compared to the national average, it always does; compared to its own history, housing in some major Texas metro areas looks quite dear, suggesting a risk of a pull-back in the real estate market.

The effects of an oil bust will likely not be felt until the next legislative session.  But if it starts to show during this session, the GOP will likely use it as an excuse to cut, or not fund, items that help middle class prosperity –  public education, higher education, health care, transportation, etc.  The things that have been neglected since the GOP took control of Texas.

While no one wants the Texas economy to turn sour, nothing can change the fate of a political party faster then a sinking economy and an inability to deal with it.  Miracles cannot be explained.  The so-called “Texas Miracle” never was one, and what happened in Texas was always explainable, The Texas Unmiracle.

So keep that in mind as the Texas GOP seeks to give businesses more tax breaks this session.  As citizens we must  be sure to ask how will they make up that money when the bill comes due in future sessions.

12.16.14

TPA Blog Round Up (week of December 15, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 9:52 am by wcnews

[EOW has been a too busy with other things lately.  Regular blogging should return soon.]

The Texas Progressive Alliance is dusting off its recipes for wassail and figgy pudding as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff says that the actual election results do not support exit polls that claim Greg Abbott received 44% of the Latino vote.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos is not the least bit surprised to learn that two Texas Regulators Get Fired for Doing Their Jobs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is calling for Nora Longoria to resign. How can she be a judge when she got very special treatment?

The Bible verses that contain the words “the poor will be with you always” do not mean what Rick Perry thinks they mean, says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. And not what many other Christians think they mean, either.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texans Together considers the way forward on campaign finance reform.

Candice Bernd feels railroaded by the Railroad Commission in Denton.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that education is only a priority if it is funded like one.

Natalie San Luis offers a lesson in how not to do PR.

SciGuy laments the budget cuts that will make it that much harder to get to Mars.

The Lunch Tray explains what the “cromnibus” spending bill means for school lunches.

Concerned Citizens bemoans the process that San Antonio’s City Council followed in passing restrictive regulations on transit network companies.

Honorary Texan The Slacktivist chides Rick Perry for his deep ignorance of what the Bible actually says.

12.10.14

TPA Blog Round Up ([week of] December 8, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 1:03 pm by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the Garner and Brown families in the quest for equal justice for all as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Guest blogger Kris Banks at Off the Kuff provided a visual guide to turnout comparisons in Harris County.

Libby Shaw writing at Texas Kaos and Daily Kos believes Greg Abbott’s recent lawsuit against the President’s action on immigration is not only lame, it is yet one more example of conservative racist disrespect for the duly elected President. Ease up on the hate, please, TX Gov. Elect.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out Republicans for cutting public works while spending money on racist, empty gestures.

Texas atheists are blessed to be able to run for public office in Texas, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value said that he is very white, male and European. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Grits for Breakfast celebrates an ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals that allows for a wider use of Texas’s so-called “junk science writ”.

The Texas Election Law Blog pushes back on the argument that voter ID laws had little effect in 2014.

The Lunch Tray offers thoughts on a national food policy.

Offcite analyzes the case for a swimming hole in Houston.

Texans Together will take a “Texas way” forward on Medicaid expansion if one is there to be taken.

Alan Bean asks what Jesus would do with the current immigration debate.

Raise Your Hand Texas released a report showing how Texas falls short of best practices with its pre-k program.

Texas Clean Air Matters explains the new ozone standard.

Gray Matters

12.01.14

TPA Blog Round Up (December 1, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 11:00 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is back from its tryptophan vacation as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is cheering for the Texas same-sex marriage plaintiffs as they move for the stay of the ruling that threw out the ban on same-sex nuptials to be lifted.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos is taking a few days off to spend quality time with family. I hope all of our readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Some helpful tips to avoid looking like a jackass with respect to the events in Ferguson, Missouri this past week were offered by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme disagrees with the GOP view that only rich, white, old men should vote.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the Michael Brown protest march in Houston this past week. The work of freedom is always up to each of us. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The controversial decision in Ferguson, Missouri sent shockwaves across the country, with many communities immediately engaging in protests. But as Texas Leftist discovered, the Houston protests may yield some substantive progress in the quest to outfit officers with body cameras. Plus, a new video highlight’s HPD’s work to tackle homelessness.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Rivard Report, with a clear view of what “bipartisanship” means these days, reminds us that it only takes a few generations to go from immigrant to hypocrite.

Lone Star Ma has had it with the textbook adoption process.

Grits for Breakfast questions Republican funny math on border security funding.

Texans Together discusses hardship exemptions for the Affordable Care Act.

LGBTQ Insider explains another acronym for the spectrum.

11.24.14

TPA Blog Round Up (November 24, 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows that even in a bad political year it has plenty to be thankful for as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights Texas for Marriage, a new grassroots group whose goal is to bring marriage equality to our state.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos as well as for Daily Kos is not surprised to know Greg Abbott has jumped on the Obama bashing bandwagon on immigration. Funny how the actual lawless ones try to pin their sins on the POTUS. Greg Abbott’s Reaction to Immigration? The usual. TX Dems are not giving up.

Even as the United States Senate in the 114th Congress looks to be one of the most freakishly conservative in almost a hundred years, PDiddie at Brains and Eggsreminds everyone that — two years from now — nearly half of that Republican majority has to be defended, and many of those seats are in blue states. So maybe Democrats can work on building turnout then…?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is furious over Abbott’s plan to take money away from projects that promote the general welfare. What does Abbott want to do with our money? Harass Mexicans and hurt the image of the Rio Grande Valley.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP’s transportation funding shenanigans will continue, Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch.

Easter Lemming Liberal News noted a Pants on Fire ruling from PolitiFact, not their rating over an Obama statement on the XL pipeline but Easter Lemming‘s rating of PolitiFact’s lie.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Texas Election Law Blog gently criticizes three less-than-stellar arguments from the week’s news.

The Rivard Report highlights Texas’ achievements in renewable energy.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that vouchers are a bad answer for education.

Newsdesk reviews Ted Cruz’s “politics as prop comedy” act on net neutrality and other Internet issues.

Grits for Breakfast is busy analyzing pre-filed criminal justice bills.

Texas Clean Air Matters calls out ERCOT for missing the big picture on clean energy.

Better Texas Blog reminds us that immigrants drive Texas’ economic success.

Concerned Citizens surveys the now much more interesting San Antonio Mayoral landscape.

11.20.14

Williamson County Elections Administrator Resigns (AGAIN)

Posted in Elections, Williamson County at 5:23 pm by wcnews

This is getting redundant to say the least, Williamson County election administrator Jason Barnett resigns. Kay Estes has been appointed as his interim replacement as Williamson County Elections Administrator.

The Williamson County Election Commission has named Kay Eastes as the interim elections administrator. Jason Barnett resigned from his position on November 13, 2014. Ms. Eastes will serve until a new elections administrator is selected. The elections administrator is appointed by the Elections Commission which is comprised of the County Judge, County Clerk, County Tax Assessor/Collector and the county chairs of the Republican and Democratic political parties. Anyone interested in applying for the position can go to http://www.wilco.org/default.aspx?tabid=2059 for more information.

There were some issues reporting results to Travis County during the last election.  Williamson County just can’t seem to hang on to an elections administrator for very long.

Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch

Posted in 84th Legislature, Taxes, Transportation at 12:37 pm by wcnews

The problem with ending tax diversions has always been that the GOP will never say how they will replace the funding for the items the diversions are funding.  That still holds true with the state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and his proposed legislation to end gas tax diversions.

He has pre-filed legislation to stop diverting $620 million dollars a year for other things.

Schwertner calls it “truth in taxation”, that he believes “when we have a dedicated tax, it should go to that dedicated purpose.”

Schwertner notes keeping all state fuel tax money for highways is only one piece of the funding puzzle, adding the state needs $4 to $5 billion dollars a year.

Schwertner says the fuel tax has been used, among other things, for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s office.

He says once this legislation is passed, then the discussion will start on prioritizing the state’s budget. [Emphasis added]

In other words Schwertner won’t tell us how he’ll replace the money, if at all, until his bill and amendment are passed.  This legislation cannot be fairly evaluated without knowing how or if the diverted money will be replaced.

At the link above there’s an audio conversation available, give it a listen.  For someone who likes to talk about so-called “truth in taxation” he’s certainly unwilling to admit how he would replace that $620 million.

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